Stoppage Time – International Football Blog

Brazil: Flamengo claim Carioca title (+video)

Posted in South America Football by peterbein on May 2, 2011

Flamengo clinched the Campeonato Carioca title for the 32nd time in their history after defeating arch-rivals Vasco da Gama in a penalty shoot-out following a goalless Taça Rio final on Sunday.

Having already won the Taça Guanabara earlier in the campaign, a win for Flamengo would ensure that they avoided a further two-legged play-off in order to decide the title. Vasco da Gama were the only team who could postpone Flamengo’s title celebrations but, in a poor game, neither they nor Flamengo really got going and it was perhaps appropriate that the game would be decided by the lottery of penalty kicks. Vasco would rue their inability from twelve yards out as only Alecssandro proved to be successful out of four attempts. Flamengo, on the other hand, only missed one spot kick out of four with Renato Abreu, Fernando and Thiago Neves ensuring that a fifth penalty kick was unnecessary and gave Flamengo another state championship crown.

WATCH FLAMENGO v VASCO DA GAMA PENALTY SHOOT-OUT HERE:

Brazil: Corinthians leading the way (+video)

Posted in South America Football by peterbein on May 31, 2010

Corinthians are leading the way in the Brasileiro (Brazilian championship) after five games leading by two points from nearest challengers Ceará. The Timão have only dropped two points from their first five games and kept up their near perfect start to the campaign at the weekend with a 4-2 home defeat of São Paulo city rivals Santos FC.

Jorge Henrique gave the home side the lead after just two minutes after tapping home from close range after Santos’ keeper Felipe failed to keep out an earlier effort. Santos restored parity eight minutes into the second half after André shot from just inside the box to guide the ball into the bottom corner but the joy was short-lived as Corinthians went back up the other end almost immediately when Bruno César took advantage of some poor defending to shoot home from short range. From this point on Corinthians began to take charge of the game and extended their lead further after 67 minutes when Ralf created some space for himself to run into and shoot low past Felipe in a well executed individual move. Paulinho made it 4-1 with five minutes to play heading home after a beautifully crafted Corinthians move down the left hand side. Marcel pulled one back for Santos with two minutes to play but the damage was already done and the home side ensured that their unbeaten start to the season remained intact. Watch match highlights HERE:

Little Ceará Sporting Club have started well and trail the league leaders by just two points in the table after their 1-0 home win against Cruzeiro. A solitary strike from Lopes was enough to ensure that the surprise challengers, promoted from Serie B last season, are the only team other than Corinthians to have an unbeaten record after five games having won three and drawn two of their fixtures so far. Rio giants Fluminense have started this campaign well and now lie in third place having disposed of Atlético Mineiro by three goals to one on Sunday. Goals from Gum, Alan and Fred in the final thirty minutes of the game turned it around for the Flu who had trailed from the second minute to a goal from Muriqui. Below Fluminense a whole host of teams were involved in stalemates including fourth place Avaí (0-0 against Vitória), fifth place Botafogo (1-1 v Vasco da Gama), whilst sixth and seventh place clubs Palmeiras and São Paulo were also involved in goalless draws against Grêmio Prudente and Guarani respectively.

At the bottom end of the table poor Atlético Goianiense are the only team in the Brasileiro so far without a win in five games. Things went from bad to worse for them on Sunday when they lost 3-1 at home to local rivals Goiás which gave the away side their first victory of the campaign. A brace from Romerito and a goal on the hour mark from Bernando gave Goiás a come from behind victory after they had trailed to an 11th minute Elias penalty. Watch match highlights HERE:

There are two more rounds to play before the championship takes a break for the FIFA World Cup. The pick of the matches sees league leaders Corinthians face up to Internacional on Matchday 6 and Botafogo on Matchday 7 whilst Ceará will hope to keep up their good run of form against fellow surprise package Avaí FC on Matchday 6. There are a couple of “Clasico” matches to look forward to with Palmeiras facing up to defending Brazilian champions Flamengo, who currently lie a disappointing twelfth in the table, and Cruzeiro playing against Santos FC on Matchday 6. The following round of games sees six-time champions São Paulo play at home to Grêmio Porto Alegre, Santos FC against traditional club and newly promoted Vasco da Gama and Internacional play Palmeiras. The championship will then take a break from June 7th and resume after the FIFA World Cup on July 13th.

Brazil: Campeonato Brasileiro Preview

Posted in South America Football by peterbein on May 7, 2010
Adriano

Adriano's goals proved crucial in Flamengo's title success last season.

Such is life in Brazilian football that there is hardly any time left to get your breath back after the completion of the various state championships before the national championship (Brasileiro) gets back into action from this weekend. “Stoppage Time – International Football Blog” previews the big kick-off in South America’s most competitive football league:

It is hard to imagine that the most successful nation in world football has only had a national championship since 1971. This makes the Brasilero much younger than its counterparts in other footballing superpowers such as England, Italy and even Germany whose Bundesliga is pretty young by European standards having only been created in 1963. For many years the Brasileiro suffered from political meddling and ever-changing tournament formats but the 2003 season heralded a whole new way of thinking in Brazilian league football; a home and away, round-robin, first-past-the-post system with points accumulated throughout the season determining the winner. This has eventually proven popular with supporters and it is appropriate that the league should enjoy such stability as it celebrates its 40th championship this year.

Flamengo are the current defending champions having seen off Internacional and São Paulo on the last day of the season pipping their two nearest challengers by just two points. This was all the more remarkable given that O Mengão were a full twelve points behind the league leaders with just ten matches of the championship left. Striker Adriano, who was suffering a personal torment in Italy, was brought back to his homeland by Flamengo and he repaid their faith in him by scoring a joint best 19 goals in the Brasileiro to help his team climb the table and secure a sixth national title. It is perhaps fitting that they are involved in the pick of the ties on Matchday 1 of the new season as they are playing fellow six-time Brazilian champions São Paulo. Will Sunday’s game signal the start towards potential seventh heaven for either club?

Two Copa Libertadores teams face-off on Sunday with Internacional from Porto Alegre hoping to go one better than last season’s second place by starting off with a victory over Cruzeiro from Belo Horizonte. Corinthians, who cannot win the Copa Libertadores having been knocked out of the competition on Wednesday, will hope that they can win the Brasileiro in their centenary year and plays at home in their opening fixture against Atlético Paranaense. There’s an intriging tie on Saturday with the state champions of Rio and São Paulo facing off against each other. Botafogo and Santos FC will be heavily fancied after their local exploits but the Brasileiro has a habit of catching up on teams who have a good start to a season and squad rotation could prove to be important. This weekend also sees the welcome return to the top league of Vasco da Gama who comfortably won Serie B last season after suffered the ignominy of relegation in the 2008 season. The Rio-based side are hoping to signal their return with a welcome three points but they will have their work cut out away at Atlético Mineiro who will be on a high having won yet another state championship last weekend.

As well as Vasco da Gama three other teams – Guarani, Ceará SC and Atlético Clube Goianiense – will also enjoy their first matches back in the top flight as they compete against Goiás Esporte Clube, Fluminense and Grêmio Porto Alegre respectively. Palmeiras, four-time Brasileiro champions, have a home tie against EC Vitória, whilst Avaí, who finished a respectable sixth place last season, play against Grêmio Prudente to complete the weekend’s matches.

CAMPEONATO BRASILEIRO – MATCHDAY 1

Botafogo v Santos FC

Goianiense v Grêmio Porto Alegre

Palmeiras v EC Vitória

(All matches played on Saturday, May 8th)

Atlético Mineiro v Vasco da Gama

Corinthians v Atlético Paranaense

Flamengo v São Paulo

Internacional v Cruzeiro

Avaí v Grêmio Prudente

Ceará SC v Fluminense

Guarani v Goiás

(All matches played on Sunday, May 9th)

Copa Libertadores: Round of 16 Review (+video)

Posted in South America Football by peterbein on May 7, 2010

The Copa Libertadores has concluded its round of 16 stage and “Stoppage Time – International Football Blog” highlights the events of a compelling and, at times, controversial first knockout round:

The first games were completed on Tuesday night and there was one upset and one near upset as big boys from Argentina and Brazil struggled against teams from Mexico and Peru respectively. Vélez Sársfield, whose only Libertadores triumph came in 1994, were expected to go through against Mexican team Chivas especially as the Guadalajara based side were resting players ahead of a crucial Mexican championship match. Sadly for Vélez their opponents hadn’t read the script as Chivas won the first leg in Guadalajara by three goals to nil thanks to a brace from Omar Bravo and a penalty kick from Héctor Reynoso struck in second-half stoppage time. This spot kick proved to be the difference between the two sides as the Argentines pulled two goals back in the return fixture but could not equalize late on. Penalties were also crucial in deciding the match between three-time champions São Paulo FC and Peruvians Universitario Lima who were unable to score a goal between them over two games so had to decide the fixture in a shoot-out. São Paulo missed their first spot kick but converted the rest of their four attempts whilst Universitario reversed that pattern to lose the shoot-out 3-1. Watch the shoot-out here:

The all-Brazilian clash between Flamengo and Corinthians was arguably the most anticipated tie of the round when the draw was made. Flamengo, who won their sixth Brazilian championship last season, haven’t won the Libertadores since their sole triumph back in 1981 but their opponents Corinthians were hoping to win the big one for the first time in their centenary year, hence bringing players of the calibre of Ronaldo and Roberto Carlos back to their homeland. However Flamengo had a couple of quality strikers of their own in Adriano and Vágner Love, the latter’s second leg goal proving crucial. After Adriano had given Flamengo a 1-0 home win in the first leg O Mengão travelled to São Paulo for the return and were behind after 28 minutes thanks to a David own goal. Corinthians then took the lead overall in the tie when Ronaldo scored against his boyhood club six minutes before half-time. Flamengo were not to be denied and struck back just four minutes after the restart thanks to Vágner Love whose away goal proved the difference between the sides as the tie finished 2-2 on aggregate. Watch second leg match highlights here:

In Wednesday night’s other games defending Libertadores champions Estudiantes de La Plata eased through to the quarter-finals after wrapping up a 3-1 home victory against Mexican side San Luis who, along with Chivas Guadalajara, were invited back to the competition this year due to their forced withdrawal from last season’s tournament due to the swine flu epidemic. Leandro González, who scored the only goal in the first leg for Estudiantes, opened the scoring after just four minutes for the Argentines but Diego de la Torre replied for the visitors just three minutes later. The game was sealed in the second half with two goals in five minutes from Leandro Benítez giving Estudiantes a 4-1 aggregate victory. Brazilians Cruzeiro also eased their way through against three-times Libertadores winners Nacional of Montevideo with Thiago Rebeiro scoring four times in a 6-1 aggregate win for the Belo Horizonte side who will play against compatriots São Paulo in the next round.

On Thursday Brazilian success in the tournament continued with the progression of Internacional at the expense of Argentinian Apertura champions Banfield thanks to away goals. Inter were beaten 3-1 in the first leg but their away goal proved crucial once Alecsandro and Walter had given the Porto Alegre outift a 2-0 lead in the second leg. With the game tied 3-3 on aggregate the Brazilians just squeezed past El Taladro who were participating in only their third ever Libertadores. In Paraguay Club Libertad were involved in a struggle against 2008 champions Once Caldas from Colombia. Dayro Moreno gave the Colombians the lead after 55 minutes meaning that Club Libertad had to score twice without reply in order to go through. Roberto Gamarra stepped up to the occasion by converting a 73rd minute penalty and a last-gasp 89th minute winner to give the Paraguayans a 2-1 win on the night and on aggregate. The final match of the round was played in Chile and it turned out to be very controversial. One nil down from the first leg, Peruvians Alianza Lima were leading the second leg 2-1 on the night and going through on away goals when, a couple of minutes into stoppage time, Seymour’s shot gave Universidad de Chile a third goal of the tie to give the Chileans the advantage. However there appeared to be three players in an offside position but the linesman and the referee deemed the goal valid much to the annoyance of the Alianza players who surrounded the referee after the game, forcing the officials to be given a police escort from the field. Watch highlights here:

COPA LIBERTADORES QUARTER-FINAL DRAW

Universidad de Chile v Flamengo

São Paulo v Cruzeiro

Estudiantes de La Plata v Internacional

Club Libertad v Chivas Guadalajara

(1st Legs May 11-13; 2nd Leg May 18-20)

Carioca: Botafogo win 19th Rio title

Posted in South America Football by peterbein on April 20, 2010

Botafogo have won the Campeonato Carioca (Rio State Championship) for the 19th time in their history having won the two component parts of the tournament. When any one team wins the first competition, known as the Taça Guanabara, and the second competition, known as the Taça Rio, then a championship play-off is unneccessary. Thankfully for Botafogo their Taça Rio final victory over record champions Flamengo on Sunday added to the Taça Guanabara crown they had already won in February meaning that the club could have a couple of weeks off before resuming action in the oncoming Brasileiro (Brazilian National Championship). “Stoppage Time – International Football Blog” reviews how Botafogo sealed the title:

Taça Guanabara

The Campeonato Carioca sees sixteen teams split into two groups of eight in two distinct tournaments within the competition. In the first stage each team plays the other seven teams from inside their own group before the top two from each group go into the semi-finals. After seven games Group A was topped by Flamengo who had nineteen points, three more than nearest challengers Fluminense. Group B was topped by Vasco da Gama who also led their group with nineteen points with Botafogo just one solitary point behind. The semi-finals saw the top team from each group play the runner-up in the other group. Flamengo, who had won the last three Campeonato Carioca in a row from 2007-09, were to be knocked out by Botafogo after the latter won 2-1. The other semi-final was decided by penalties after a goalless stalemate with Vasco da Gama prevailing from the spot defeating Fluminense 6-5. The final saw Botafogo get revenge on Vasco, the latter had won their group stage encounter by a heavy 6-0 scoreline. Fabio Ferreira and Sebastián Abreu scored the goals to give Botafogo a 2-0 win to claim the first trophy in the competition (see VIDEO):

Taça Rio

In the second half of the Carioca the same two groups of eight teams from the first stage remain intact, only this time each team plays the other eight teams in the opposing group. Despite the change of opposition for each team the groups had a similar finish to them as in the first stage. Group A was again topped by Flamengo who accumulated 22 points in eight games, three ahead of Fluminense. In Group B the roles were reversed from the first stage as Botafogo topped the group with fifteen points, two ahead of Vasco da Gama. In the semi-finals Botafogo defeated Fluminense 3-2 whilst Flamengo defeated arch-rivals Vasco da Gama 2-1 to set up an interesting Taça Rio final. Flamengo had to beat Botafogo in the Taça Rio final in order to set up a grand final against the same opponents to decide the overall champion. Botafogo had other ideas as they wanted to secure the title without the need for a play-off and they got their just rewards albeit with the help of two penalty kicks. Herrara converted the first penalty in the 23rd minute and Sebastián Abreu scored with one of the coolest penalties ever in the 71st minute. Vagner Love’s goal for Flamengo sandwiched the two Botafogo strikes but proved not to be enough. Botafogo had won the two stages and, therefore, took Flamengo’s Carioca title away from them in the process (see Video):

Campeonato Carioca – Flamengo the team to beat

Posted in South America Football by peterbein on January 16, 2010
Flamengo

Flamengo won their third Carioca championship in a row in 2009

Fresh from winning the Campeonato Brasiliero for the first time in seventeen years in 2009 Clube de Regatas do Flamengo, more popularly known as just ‘Flamengo’, will be hoping to keep up their recent domination of the Rio State Championship (Carioca) which begins this weekend. “O Mengão” won their third consecutive state championship last year which also helped them overtake arch-rivals Fluminense in the list of overall title wins (Flamengo have 31, Fluminense 30). Flamengo hope that they can carry on from where they left off in 2009 and begin another era of success for the club, starting this weekend against little Duque de Caxias on Sunday.

The Carioca championship is divided into two stages, the “Taça Guanabara” and the “Taça Rio”. In the first stage the sixteen clubs are divided into two groups of eight teams and each team plays against the teams in their own group once only. At the end of the group stage the top two from each group will play in the semi-finals (first of each group plays against the second team in the other group) and the winners will go to the one-leg final at Estadio Maracanã. In the Taça Rio the groups remain the same but each team, rather than playing the other teams in their group, will play all of the teams from the other group once only. Similarly the top two in this tournament go into the semi-finals with the final played at the Maracanã. If the same team wins both stages of the tournament then there is no need for a two-legged play-off to decide the overall champion. In 2009 Botafogo came close to becoming overall champion in this manner. However having won the Taça Guanabara with a 3-0 win over surprise package Resende, they couldn’t quite manage to win the Taça Rio, losing to Flamengo 1-0 which forced the championship play-off. Both legs of the 2009 Carioca final finished 2-2 so the title was decided by the dreaded penalty shoot-out. Leandro Guerreiro missed Botafogo’s fourth kick in the shoot-out and this was enough for Flamengo to celebrate their 31st state championship.

The state championships may not be as important as they once were in Brazil but they still retain a place in the calendar as many fans see them as part of national footballing tradition, much the same as English football has a special place for the FA Cup. Flamengo will be optimistic of winning their 32nd tournament in 2010. Brazilian international player Vágner Love, who was being chased by German club Hamburger SV, has now opted to stay on loan in his homeland having been loaned previously to Palmeiras from his club CSKA Moscow. Love will team up with Adriano in the heart of the attack for the Rubro-Negro (Red and blacks) and will hope to add to a personal trophy cabinet that includes two Russian championships, a UEFA Cup and two Copa America titles which he won with the national team in 2004 and 2007.

Now that their national championship drought has been fulfilled can Flamengo create a new team to rival the the great side of Zico from the 1980s by capitalising on recent success? The 2010 Carioca championship will be the first place to find out.

Unlikely heroes end Flamengo’s 17 year title drought

Posted in South America Football by peterbein on December 7, 2009
Dejan Petkovic

Dejan Petkovic celebrates Flamengo's Brasileiro triumph

Brazilian giants Flamengo were, eventually, made to work hard for the Brazilian national championship (Brasileiro) after they toiled to a 2-1 victory over Grêmio at a sell-out Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro. The “Rubro Negro” (Red and Blacks) have now won six Brazilian national championships, thus equalling the number already achieved by outgoing champions São Paulo.

At the start of the day there were four teams with a mathematical chance of winning the title: Flamengo, Internacional, São Paulo and Palmeiras. The fact that Flamengo were playing at home to Internacional’s arch-rivals from the city of Porto Alegre, Grêmio, meant that many fans and pundits had written this game off as a certain three points for “O Mengão”. What wasn’t in the script though was Grêmio taking the lead, Roberson turning home a corner in the 22nd minute to stun the home supporters. Thankfully for the Red and Black masses they didn’t have too long to wait before parity was restored. Centre-half David shot from distance to level it at 1-1 on the half-hour mark and it was to remain at that score at half-time. Elsewhere Internacional’s 2-0 lead at home to already relegated Santo André meant that if scores stayed the same after 90 minutes then Flamengo would lose the title that they craved more than any other. They simply had to win.

The second half started quite slowly but Flamengo soon created chances. They were rewarded in the 70th minute when Dejan Petkovic’s left-sided corner was headed home by another unlikely scorer, centre-half Ronaldo Angelim, and the Flamengo fans started to party in the Maracana. Ten minutes from the end the party was very nearly brought to a halt as Adilson wasted a glorious close range effort for Grêmio. After that though both teams just saw the game out and at the final whistle the party really could begin. Adriano, who returned to Brazil after a roller-coaster period at Internazionale in Italy, finished the season as joint top scorer in the Brasileiro (along with Mineiro’s Diego Tardelli on 19 goals) and, more importantly, as a champion.

In the other matches Internacional beat Santo André 4-1 to secure the runners-up spot from São Paulo, whose three year reign as champions ended with a 4-0 win against Sport Recife. Flamengo, Internacional and São Paulo are joined in the 2010 Copa Libertadores by Cruzeiro, who finished fourth after their 2-1 victory against Santos was coupled with a defeat for nearest challengers Palmeiras (2-1 away to Botafogo). Corinthians, home of Ronaldo and recent signing Roberto Carlos, also have a berth in the Libertadores thanks to their Copa Brasil triumph over Internacional in the early months of the season.

Eight teams qualified for next year’s Copa Sudamericana: Palmeiras, Avaí, Atlético Mineiro, Grêmio, Goias, Barueri, Santos and Vitoria. At the bottom of the table a dramatic finish saw Rio giants Fluminense avoid relegation by one point after their 1-1 draw at Coritiba was enough to send their opponents down into Serie B along with Sport Recife, Náutico and Santo André. Those four clubs will be replaced in the 2010 Brasileiro by Vasco da Gama, Guarani, Ceará and Atletico Goianiense.