By Nelson Belen, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – It was a big weekend in the 2017 Campeonato Brasileiro (Brasileirão) Série A this weekend with the season winding down and all four of Rio’s top clubs vying for the G6 (top six).
In the 32nd Round of the Brasileirão, two of Rio’s big four went head-to-head on Saturday, November 6th, with Fluminense coming out on top 2-1 over Botafogo. The following day, November 7th, Flamengo fell to Grêmio 3-1, while Vasco had to settle for a last-minute draw against Vitória.
The weekend kicked off at Nilton Santo Stadium where Botafogo hosted crosstown rivals Fluminense.
Before fans could even settle into their seats, the Lone Star took the lead when Marcos Vinícius scored at the 56-second mark. Unfortunately for the home team fans, that would be the last Botafogo’s offense would be heard from the entire game.
Fifteen minutes into the second period, Marcos Junior launched a rocket just outside the penalty area to tie the game at 1-1. Then, as regulation time was coming to a close, Matheus Alessandro snuck a nifty shot past Gatito into the near right corner to jump ahead and lead to the eventual 2-1 win.
On Sunday, Flamengo traveled to Porto Alegre to take on Grêmio. It was a tale of two halves as Grêmio and Flamengo started sluggishly with both clubs coming off games in the Libertadores and Sudamericana respectively.
After a scoreless first period, the second half saw an offensive resurgence with Éverton Ribeiro giving the Rubro-Negra the 1-0 lead one minute into the period.
Grêmio’s Everton would open the scoring for Grêmio with a close-range shot over a prone Diego Alves to tie the game 24 minutes into the second.
Only two minutes later, the attacker would score again on a breakaway goal into the far right corner. Luan would score ten minutes later to seal the 3-1 Grêmio win.
In the nightcap at Maracanã, Breno opened the scoring for Vasco at the nine-minute mark against Vitória. The score remained 1-0 for the entirety of regulation until one minute into stoppage time when André Lima knocked in the tying goal to the shock and dismay of the hometown fans.
With only one month left in the 2017 season, it’s going to be a dogfight among the big four for the G6. As of writing, Botafogo, Flamengo, and Vasco occupy the sixth, seventh, and eighth spots respectively. Meanwhile, Fluminense moved up one spot to thirteenth.
The top four clubs in the Brasileirão go directly to the group stage of next year’s Copa Libertadores. The fifth and sixth-placed teams also qualify for the Libertadores, but they enter in the second round and must win two games to reach the group stage.