By Nelson Belen, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL â€“ In an intense, action-packed match on Sunday, October 23rd, Rioâ€™s CR Flamengo drew 2Ã—2 with Sport Club Corinthians Paulista, defending Campeonato Brasileiro (BrasileirÃ£o) SÃ©rie A champion, in the 32nd round of the 2016 BrasileirÃ£o. The emotional match marked Flamengoâ€™s first game at MaracanÃ£ Stadium in ten months as the iconic stadium had been turned over to the Rio 2016 Olympic Committee for much of the year.
With reports of numerous clashes in the stands between Brazilâ€™s two biggest fan bases even before the match started, stadium security had their hands full on Sunday at a raucous sold-out 65,000-seat MaracanÃ£.
Flamengo fans celebrated in the opening minutes when Paolo Guerrero appeared to score off the rebound of a missed shot from teammate Federico Mancuello. However, the fans of the Rubro-Negra had their celebration cut short as the goal was quickly waved off with the Peruvian striker being marked offside.
It would be the few die-hard Corinthians fans, who braved the trip into Flamengo home territory, who would be given the first chance to rejoice. At the six minute mark, the Corinthiansâ€™ Guilherme caught Flamengoâ€™s defense by surprise. The midfielder launched a long shot from beyond the goal area that hit the right post and ricocheted into the net past a diving Muralha, sending the Paulista fans into a frenzy.
Flamengo would answer at the 14th minute. Guerrero, seeking redemption for his earlier waved off goal, found himself in ideal position off a Diego free kick and scored a header into the right corner of the net. Corinthiansâ€˜ players erupted at the officials as it appeared that Guerrero was again offsides but the goal was allowed tying the game at 1Ã—1.
Right before halftime, a well-organized Corinthiansâ€™ attack began with Romero streaking down the right side and executing a perfect cross that was lightly tapped by Guilherme, into the waiting foot of Rodriguinho, who rocketed the ball past Muralha to give the Corinthians the lead at the half.
At the 59th minute, Paolo Guerrero would strike again for Flamengo. An attempted header by Willian ArÃ£o was blocked by Corinthians keeper Walter, but an opportunistic Guerrero was again in the right place at the right time, and scored with his own header off the rebound to tie the game.
A key moment came at the 76th minute when Rodriguinho was sent off the field with his second yellow card, reducing the Paulistas to only ten players. Despite the advantage, Flamengo were unable to capitalize and the match ended in a 2Ã—2 draw.
The result leaves the Rubro-Negra still holding the second position in the BrasileirÃ£o table with 61 points. At time of writing, they are six points behind first-place Palmeiras, who also saw action on Sunday, defeating Sport Recife 2Ã—1.
With the draw, the Corinthians reach 49 points, and at sixth place, remain in contention for the G4 (top four teams) and a spot in the Copa Libertadores.