Monday, 24 May 2010

Botafogo Continue Strong Start Despite Infighting; Flamengo Seal First Win

An action-packed weekend in the Brasileirão saw plenty of goals and talking points, with events at the Engenhão drawing particular attention...

Botafogo 3-0 Goiás
O Glorioso continued their impressive start to the campaign on Saturday afternoon by comprehensively defeating Emerson Leão's Goiás side. The game, however, will be best remembered for a bizarre incident involving Botafogo teammates Herrera and Caio, who were sent off for fighting in the second half. Herrera was visibly aggrieved when Caio selfishly wasted a good counter-attacking opportunity, and appeared to have some strong words for the youngster. The spat turned physical (although hardly violent), culminating in a couple of shoves and general handbags. The referee, however, saw fit to expel both players, who looked rather embarrassed as they trudged off.

Lúcio Flávio commemorates his goal. The crowd go wild. Or not.

The confrontation overshadowed what was another well-deserved win for Botafogo. After surviving some early Goiás pressure, the home side took the lead via Lúcio Flávio. The midfielder can sometimes look sluggish in open play, but his dead-ball prowess is beyond despute; his perfectly placed free-kick gave the 'keeper no chance. Barely a minute later, the advantage was doubled. Fábio in the Goiás goal failed to cling on to Herrera's low shot, and Somália hammered in the loose ball. It was Herrera who completed the scoring in the second period, turning home Lúcio Flávio's cross at the near post.

Despite the infighting, Joel Santana will be delighted to see his team move up to third in the table. If Botafogo continue this form, they might be a good outside bet for a Sudamericana or even a Libertadores place. In the short term, however, suspensions for Herrera and Caio (plus World Cup duty for Loco Abreu) will force the Alvinegro to field a makeshift strikeforce (likely to be Alex and Edno) against Cruzeiro on Wednesday.

Flamengo 3-1 Grêmio Prudente
There were mixed fortunes for Flamengo this week. The Rio giants recorded their first league win of the season, but look set to lose star striker Adriano, whose contract is about to expire. A return to Italy with Roma is mooted, a move which would put a huge dent in Fla's ambition of successfully defending their Série A crown. I stuggle to see how the transfer would be beneficial to Adriano either, apart from giving his bank balance a boost. This is a player who has struggled with drink, depression, and indiscipline even in circumstances tailor-made for his happiness; his family and friends are nearby, and Flamengo have been hugely (and arguably, excessively) lenient over his frequent absences from training. Staying with the Rubro-Negro would surely be the most logical outcome, but this appears unlikely. After all, when does logic have anything to do with Brazilian football?!

Flamengo goalscorer Juan.

Adriano sat out Sunday's game at the Maracanã, which allowed centre stage to be taken by Vágner Love, the other half of the fêted Império do Amor (literally Empire of Love; a conjunction of the two strikers' nicknames) partnership. It was he who opened the score on the stroke of half time, converting a penalty after Guilherme Camacho was tripped in the box. Wanderley levelled for the visitors after the break, but Flamengo nicked two late goals to secure three points. An attempted cross from Juan snuck in at the near post, before Vágner Love calmly slotted home his second penalty of the game. Next up for Rogério Lourenço's men is Wednesday's Fla-Flu clash at the Maracanã.

Gameweek 3 Round-up
Palmeiras faced Grêmio on Saturday, in the final game at the Palestra Itália prior to its refurbishment. In an exciting contest, the Verdão emerged 4-2 winners, a result which should temporarily allay fears over the side's decline in recent months. Ewerton twice capitalised on slack Grêmio defending to give the home side a two-goal lead, but the Tricolor reacted with a classy goal from Jonas, who controlled a high ball and volleyed home. Just before half-time, some ridiculous refereeing saw a sending off apiece; Palmeiras' Marcos Assunção and Douglas of Grêmio both harshly punished for a minor coming-together. Hugo levelled things up for the Porto Alegre side after the break, but it was Palmeiras who claimed the win, thanks to a Maurício Ramos header and a cute near-post finish from Cleiton Xavier.

A 2-1 away win against Atlético-GO gave Santos their first win in the Campeonato Brasileiro. Without Neymar, Ganso, Madson, and André (all left out for breaking a curfew after last week's Copa do Brasil win), Santos struggled to assert themselves in the first half. After the break, a firecracker from Wesley gave the Peixe the lead, before Zé Eduardo turned home Alex Sandro's cross. Boka's late goal proved to be no more than a consolation for the Dragão.

Atlético Mineiro reacted to last week's dire display by dispatching Atlético Paranaense 3-1. Goals from Muriqui, Diego Tardelli, and Ricardinho outweighed the away side's sole (but well worked) effort, which was finished off by Bruno Mineiro. Fellow Belo Horizonte heavyweights Cruzeiro had to come from two goals down to earn a draw with Guarani. Bugre hitman Roger twice profited from some uncharacteristically poor Cruzeiro defending, before Gil and Guerrón levelled things up.

Atlético-PR's Marcio Azevedo (left) confronts Atlético Mineiro's Ricardinho.

In a preview of the upcoming Libertadores semi-final, Internacional lost 2-0 to São Paulo at the Beira-Rio. Hernanes gave the away side the lead; his volley surprised Pato Abbondanzieri after his original shot from a free-kick had rebounded off the wall. Fernandão (a former Inter idol) bagged the Tricolor's second, rounding off a lovely move involving Hernanes and Dagoberto. São Paulo's exciting form continues. Corinthians scraped a 1-0 win over improving Fluminense, thanks to a Chicão free-kick. The Timão had to withstand substantial pressure from the Rio side, who thought they'd won a late penatly when Fred was brought down by Bruno. Unfortunately for Flu, the linesman had flagged the striker offside; a tight call but probably an accurate one.

Ceará claimed their second win of the season, beating Vitória 1-0. The goal came in injury time at the end of the match; Washington with the easiest of finishes after a sensational run by Misael. Avaí's early season form continued with a straightforward 2-0 win over struggling Vasco. Roberto scored the first for the Leão da Ilha, following some comically bad defending from the Rio side. Róbson made it two in the second half, finishing off a neat attack down the right. Celso Roth's Vasco have a measly one point to their name after the opening three games.

(Photo credits; (1) Alexandre Cassiano/Globo, (2) Paulo Sergio, (3) Mauricio de Souza/Agência Estado.)

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