God bless the Copa Sul-Americana and it's wonderfully counter-intuitive schedule. Yes, this midweek round-up consists of only one match, and thus will be laughably short. With Vasco set to get their last 16 tie underway next week, and São Paulo and Flamengo only continuing their campaigns in late October (seriously), it was left to Botafogo to fly the Brazilian flag on Thursday night.
Botafogo 1-1 Santa Fé
With Série A success understandably his side's main priority, Caio Júnior rested a number of top players for the visit of Santa Fé. Fábio Ferreira, Marcelo Mattos and Maicosuel were all given the evening off, whilst Elkeson started on the bench. Botafogo's weakened side struggled in the opening period, and fell behind to a lovely team goal. Alejandro Bernal swapped passes with a teammate on the edge of the area and burst to the byeline, before picking out Omar Pérez in the six-yard box. The Santa Fé captain completed the easiest of finishes, inspiring Colombian hopes.
Botafogo improved considerably after the break, buoyed by the introduction of Elkeson (who was on Brazil duty just 24 hours earlier). It was he who created the equaliser, sliding an impeccable pass through to Caio Canedo, who lofted coolly over the goalkeeper. It was a welcome return to prominence for Caio, a one-time prodigy whose star has dipped over the last twelve months. If Botafogo can harness his undoubted ability, they will lend yet another string to their formidable attacking bow. On Thursday, their late pressure came to nothing, meaning that they face a tricky second leg in Bogotá. That match is scheduled to take at some point before February 2019.*
*Don't take this as gospel.
(Photo credit; Paulo Sergio.)