By Nelson Belen, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Exciting night of football (soccer) on Wednesday, July 26th, as two of Rio’s big four clubs took the pitch to try to secure a spot in the 2017 Copa do Brasil (Brazil Cup) semi-finals.
By night’s end, Botafogo showed it was clearly one of the top teams in the tournament with a dominant 3-0 win over Atlético Mineiro. Flamengo, meanwhile, was fortunate to advance on away goals despite having lost 4-2 to Santos.
Botafogo kicked off the night’s action in the back-end match with Atlético Mineiro at Nilton Santos Stadium (Engenhão). Atlético entered the match with the advantage after having beaten Botafogo 1-0 in the first match on June 29th.
However, that advantage was quickly erased five minutes into the game when defender Joel Carli deftly redirected Bruno Silva’s shot for the game’s first goal.
Botafogo continued to pressure in the first period and it paid off late in the half with a perfect header from Roger that found the back of the net for the 2-0 lead. Gilson would close out the game with a goal in the game’s closing moments to cement the 3-0 lead and a spot in the semi-finals against the winner of the Flamengo-Santos match later in the evening.
Flamengo entered its match with Santos with a huge advantage after having defeated Santos 2-0 on June 28th at Luso Brasileiro Stadium at Ilha do Governador. The Rubro-Negra‘s shutout of Santos in the first match would loom large in last night’s match.
Flamengo took the early lead 1-0 with Orlando Berrio scoring on the breakaway after a perfect pass from Diego Ríbas at the nine-minute mark. Santos would tie the game with a long-range shot off the foot of Bruno Henrique at the 33rd minute.
Paolo Guerrero broke the tie moments into the second half with a dribbler past keeper Vanderlei, giving the Rubro-Negra the 2-1 lead.
The key moment of the game came minutes later when a Copete header off a corner kick snuck past Muralha to tie the game. Only one minute later, Santos would take the lead off a sparkling shot from Victor Ferraz for the 3-2 lead.
Copete would strike again in stoppage time with another header giving Santos the 4-2 win at the buzzer. In the end, both teams had four goals in the aggregate, but with Flamengo having scored two of its goals on the road, the Rubro-Negra advanced to the semi-finals with the away goal advantage.
The result sets up a match between two of Rio’s big four in the Copa do Brasil semi-finals with Flamengo facing off against Botafogo.
The Copa do Brasil is a knockout tournament running from March to November that includes clubs from around Brazil competing in a series of home-away matches.