By Nelson Belen, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – It was a pivotal day of football (soccer) on Sunday, March 18th, as the 2018 Taça Rio regular season entered its final round with semi-final spots mostly undecided.
At the end of the day, Rio’s big four clubs, Flamengo, Botafogo, Vasco, and Fluminense, earned the final four spots in both the Taça Rio and Campeonato Carioca semi-finals.
Thanks to a brace from Geuvânio, Flamengo traveled to Kléber Andrade Stadium in Espírito Santo on Sunday and crushed Portuguesa 4-0 eliminating them from semi-final contention. Éverton Ribeiro and Henrique Dourado also added goals to seal the easy win for the Rubro-Negra.
With the win, Flamengo finished second in Group B of the Taça Rio standings.
Rivals Botafogo and Vasco faced off on Sunday at Nilton Santos Stadium in an entertaining matchup that saw Vasco take an early 2-0 lead. Botafogo stormed back in the second with goals from Lindoso and Brenner to equalize the game at 2-2. But, at the 92nd minute, Vasco’s Paulinho would score the game-winner for the 3-2 victory.
Vasco completed a successful Taça Rio regular season campaign sitting atop Group B just ahead of Flamengo.
Despite the loss, Botafogo earned enough points to climb into second place of Group C and guarantee a semi-final berth thanks to Portuguesa’s loss to Flamengo earlier.
By the time Group C leader Fluminense faced off against Cabofriense, the club had already mathematically qualified for a Taça Rio semi-final berth thanks to the earlier games’ results. Playing mostly reserves, the club played just well enough to pull out the 1-1 draw.
With the 2018 Taça Rio regular season now concluded the Taça Rio semi-final picture is now set with Vasco taking on Botafogo on Wednesday, March 21st, and Fluminense battling Flamengo on Thursday, March 22nd.