By Nelson Belen, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – On Sunday, August 12th, Rio’s CR Flamengo held on to defeat Belo Horizonte’s Cruzeiro 1-0 in Round 18 of the Campeonato Brasileiro (Brasileirão) Série A, the most important national tournament in Brazil.
Despite starting five reserves yesterday, Vitinho, Paquetá, Trauco, Dourado, and Piris, a raucus 55,000-plus showed up at famed Maracanã Stadium to cheer on the Rubro-Negra, currently in a dogfight with São Paulo FC for the top of the Brasileirão standings.
Flamengo dominated the ball early on, reaching 75 percent ball possession in the first period.
The club’s strong start paid off at the 21st minute. Everton Ribeiro got free on the right side and found Henrique Dourado, who poked the ball just past Cruzeiro keeper Rafael for the 1-0 lead.
Cruzeiro came out fast in the second and looked to have the equalizer midway through the period. Arrascaeta launched a close-range header that Flamengo keeper Diego Alves somehow kept from crossing the goal line, stopping the ball with his fingertips.
The Rubro-Negra would hold on for the 1-0 win and are currently second in the Brasileirão Série A standings with 37 points.
São Paulo, who also took the pitch yesterday, defeated Sport Recife to hold on to the top spot, remaining just ahead of Flamengo with 38 points.
“We got the important victory, we managed to make a good game, now we can rest because now there’s much more ahead,” exclaimed Diego Alves alluding to the Rubro-Negra‘s busy upcoming schedule.
Flamengo is back on the pitch in the Brasileirão next Sunday, August 19th, to face off against Atlético-PR. Before then, the Rubro-Negra will return to Maracanã to square off against Grêmio in the second leg of the Copa do Brasil quarterfinals.
Flamengo and Grêmio drew 1-1 in the first leg on Wednesday, August 1st.
Finally, on Wednesday, August 29th, Flamengo and Cruzeiro will face off again in the Copa Libertadores, round of 16.