By Robbie Blakeley, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Fluminense and Cruzeiro remain tied as the Brasileirão nears the closing rounds. With just six matches left, it is only a goal difference separating the top outfits, after both picked up 2-0 wins in Round 32.
Flamengo managed to do their city rivals a favor, holding third placed Corinthians to a 1-1 draw. The Rubro Negro have looked a far more organized unit since new coach Luxemburgo’s arrival, and will likely pose a greater threat next year. Meanwhile, Botafogo kept their hopes of a Copa Libertadores place alive with a fine victory in Minas Gerais, while Vasco went down to Vitória.
Flamengo 1-1 Corinthians
Flamengo’s improvement continued in a difficult game at the Engenhão on Wednesday evening. Luxemburgo went on the offensive, selecting three attackers in the hope of pinning Cornthians into their own half, but Diogo, Diego Maurício and Deivid failed to gel, and Corinthians took the lead after half an hour. Bruno César played through Ronaldo Fenômeno, who beat the offside trap, and did what he does best. He opened his body and angled the ball beyond Marcelo Lomba.
At the break, Luxemburgo substituted Deivid for Marquinhos, and it immediately paid dividends, when his corner was headed in by Diogo less than two minutes after the restart. Five minutes before the end, Fenomeno had a golden chance to counter attack, but his increasing bulk has slowed him down, and Flamengo were able to clear the danger.
Fluminense 2-0 Grêmio
Fluminense ended a run of five games without a win in impressive fashion, beating in form Grêmio. Tellingly, it was the return to form of Conca, so often the engine of this Fluminense outfit, that seemed to make the difference. The Argentine scored both goals in a man-of-the-match display. His first came in the nineteenth minute, when he was given time and space on the edge of the box to turn and unleash a vicious left footed shot.
Grêmio found it difficult to break Flu down, but striker Andre Lima missed two good chances, one of them an absolute sitter, to bring his side level. And Conca made them pay ten minutes from time, finishing off Washington’s cross shot to wrap up the points.
Vitória 4-2 Vasco
Vasco’s terrible first half performance consigned them to defeat in Salvador, going in three down at the interval. Vasco only managed one shot on goal in the first 45 minutes, when a long ball from Fernando Prass found Eder Luis, but the striker shot woefully wide.
Vasco pulled a goal back four minutes into the second half, Nunes heading home from close range, but Junior restored the home side’s three goal advantage shortly afterward. Fumagalli scored a consolation for Vasco in injury time, but they were never at the races.
Atlético-MG 0-2 Botafogo
Botafogo secured three points in the Mineirão to move into fourth place. The home side started stronger, Diego Souza shooting narrowly wide, while Diego Tardelli hit the post and Jefferson saved from an Obina header.
Botafogo came out of their shell after the break as they began to play more flowing football, Jobson shooting over when he should have tested goalkeeper Renan Ribeiro. But Obina remained a threat for the hosts, Jefferson again forced into action with a point blank save.
Fifteen minutes from time, Obina’s wastefulness was punished, as Edno and Loco Abreu combined for Botafogo to take the lead, Edno finishing off a quick passing move. Loco Abreu made sure of victory in the 89th minute, deftly chipping the ball home after an assist from Lúcio Flávio.