Friday, 28 May 2010

Stunning Comeback Gives Vasco First Win; Fluminense Beat Flamengo in Clássico

There was a full midweek programme in Série A, with important wins coming for two Rio clubs who have endured a tough start to the campaign.

Vasco da Gama 3-2 Internacional
An inspired second-half comeback saw Vasco get their first win the Campeonato Brasileiro, to the relief of fans and new boss Celso Roth alike. Visiting Inter had established a 2-0 lead at the break, thanks to a quickfire brace from Andrezinho. The first came on 38 minutes, a deflected effort after the midfielder had cut in from the right. Barely two minutes later, the left-hand side of the Vasco defence lapsed for a second time, allowing Andrezinho far too much space to collect Alecsandro's pass and clip a delicate finish over Fernando Prass.

Rocket man; Élton celebrates his opening goal for Vasco.

The São Januário club's revival in the second period was as impressive as it was unexpected. They dragged themselves back into contention thanks to a fabulous goal from Élton, who turned on the edge of the box and lashed an unstoppable volley over Pato Abbondanzieri. Belief appeared to pulse through the Vasco players, but they were made to wait until the final fifteen minutes until their pressure paid off. The equaliser came with a generous dollop of luck; the Gigante da Colina were awarded a penalty when Ernani tumbled under pressure from Inter defender Nei. The replay showed it to be a shameless dive, but Philippe Coutinho didn't care, sending the 'keeper the wrong way with his spot-kick.

With six minutes to go, Vasco got their winner. The ball broke to burly midfielder Nilton, who crashed a drive into the top corner from the edge of the area. The home players celebrated wildly, and for good reason; every point will be vital in what's shaping up to be a long battle against relegation. If Celso Roth can get more performances like this one from his men, especially at home, it will go a long way to securing their safety.

Fluminense 2-1 Flamengo
Muricy Ramalho's Fluminense earnt a deserved win over city rivals Flamengo in Wednesday's game at the Maracanã. It had been over two years since the Laranjeiras club had been victorious in a Fla-Flu, but this win suggests that the trajectories of the two clubs may finally be changing. Flamengo look unlikely to maintain the level of performance which saw them win last season's Série A title, especially since it appears that Vágner Love will follow Adriano out of the club. Flu, on the other hand, could be on the up; with a talented manager and hopes of new signings such as Deco.

Adriano leaves Flamengo's Gávea HQ after confirming his exit from the club. Fans were shell-shocked, firstly to hear the bad news, but also to see the striker at the training complex at all.

The Tricolor took the lead after 10 minutes when Rodriguinho netted his first for the club. The credit, though, must go to playmaker Dário Conca. Surging from deep, the Argentine scooped a sumptious pass for his teammate, who dispatched a first-time finish past Bruno in the Flamengo goal. It would prove the only goal of a balanced first half. After the break, Fluminense wasted little time in increasing their lead, and again it was Conca who did the damage. Marquinho controlled a cross from the right, and unselfishly teed up the No. 11, who smashed a shot into the top corner.

Flamengo were suffering from a real lack of cutting-edge in attack, and it took a goal from an unlikely source to drag them back into the game. Goalkeeper Bruno ventured upfield to take a free-kick, which he bent gloriously over the wall and into the net. It was too little, too late, however, and the three points saw Fluminense leapfrog Fla in the Série A standings.

Gameweek 4 Round-up
Corinthians remain in top spot despite only managing a draw against Grêmio Prudente. Wanderley volleyed the home side into the lead, but William equalised after a Matías Defederico free-kick had caused havok in the Prudente defence. Diego's shot from a free-kick looked to have won it for the Abelha, but a late own goal by Dênis ensured that the points were shared. In Belo Horizonte, Botafogo's good run was ended by Cruzeiro; Thiago Ribeiro netted the only goal in a 1-0 victory for the Raposa.

Santos were not at their best against Guarani, and needed two late goals to secure a 3-1 win. A Baiano free-kick cancelled out Neymar's opener; a mazy run culminating in a scuffed finish which snuck in at the near post. Marcel met Léo's cross with a firm header to put Santos back into the lead, before André's late strike guaranteed maximum points.

São Paulo continued their winning run with a hard-fought 1-0 win over local rivals Palmeiras. The veteran goalkeepers Rogério Ceni and Marcos had busy first halves - São Paulo in particular showed plenty of attacking intent - but the sides went in goalless at the interval. The winner came early in the second half, when the powerful Fernandinho wriggled free on the left and crossed low for Fernandão to poke home. A little man/big man combination in name only; more like big man/bigger man in terms of physique. Palmeiras had a golden opportunity to level matters late on, but Ewerton's penalty was kept out by Rogério.

Fernandinho skips away from two Palmeiras defenders to set up São Paulo's winner.

Atlético Mineiro's toppsy-turvy start to the Brasileirão continued as they lost 4-3 away to Vitória. Schwenk (still love that name) gave Vitória the lead, but the Galo levelled in style; Muriqui sprinted onto Ricardinho's perfect pass and volleyed over the 'keeper with his first touch. Scwenk bagged with his second with a header, before Ricardinho's free-kick restored parity again. Some amusing goalkeeping from Marcelo gifted Vitória their third. The Atlético man chested down a back-pass but was robbed by Schwenk who completed his hat-trick. Schwenksational. (I'm so, so sorry.) Diego Tardelli headed in the visitors' third equaliser, but the game was finally settled by Evandro, who recently arrived at Vitória from none other guessed it, Atlético Mineiro. A fitting end to an amazing game.

In Porto-Alegre, Grêmio enjoyed a comfortable 3-0 win over Avaí. In-form striker Jonas netted a first-half brace; the first a deflected effort from a free-kick, the second a simple finish after he'd rounded the 'keeper. Fábio Rochemback scored the third in the final minute. At the Baixada, Atlético-PR took the lead agaisnt Atlético-GO through a Paulo Baier free-kick, and scored a second through Wagner Diniz, who finished emphatically after a slalom run. Elias pulled one back for the visitors, but the Furacão hung on to win. In the round's only goalless affair, Ceará held Goiás at the Serra Dourada.

(Photo credits; (1) Paulo Sergio, (2) Cleber Mendes, (3) Tom Dib.)

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