Grêmio and Fluminense produced a modern day classic in Sunday night’s late game. Grêmio 4 Fluminense 5.
It’s a funny old championship the Brasileirão Série A: the average goals per game ratio is lower than other leagues (1.4 last season versus 2.7 in the English Premiership for example), the intensity and quality of the games (the tactics, etc – not the players) can be poor, but every now and then you are treated to something special. Take a bow Grêmio and Fluminense.
It was hard to know what to expect going into this game, with both sides having patchy form. Grêmio’s Libertadores campaign has been stuttering and they had only taken one point from their first two league games. Meanwhile, Fluminense are still adapting to the style of their new manager and 0 points from their first two league games.
There was also the wildcard of what lineup Grêmio would field; needing to take at least a point from their final Libertadores group game this week to progress to the next round, many people thought that they might field a reserve team, or a mixed team at best, in the fixture last night. In the end, Renato Gaúcho, to his credit, fielded close to a full strength side.
And that seemed to be the right choice after the first 21 minutes in which goals from André, Everton and Jean Pyerre – the last after a beautiful touch and go move involving several players – put Grêmio 3-0 up. They even had chances to add to their tally and Fernando Diniz’s Fluminense were in disarray. Diniz’s game plan of possession-based football in shreds.
To their credit, Fluminense kept going and after a good move down the left involving loanee Caio Henrique (from Atletico Madrid), they managed to bundle the ball over the line thanks to Yony González. And a few minutes later they were well and truly back in the game, thanks to a gift from ex-Fluminense keeper Julio Cesar, who tried to dribble Flu attacker Luciano, and failed miserably, allowing the forward to put the ball into an empty net.
They probably didn’t deserve to be so close to Grêmio based on that first half performance. But they went into half time with their tails up and only losing by the odd goal. And now with their tails up, they started the second half like they meant business. They forced Julio Cesar into a few redeeming saves, but soon enough they had equalised with veteran centre back Matheus Ferraz scoring from a loose ball after a corner.
I would have said at this stage that there was only going to be one winner: Fluminense. But, although they were playing well and dominating, you get the feeling that with this team, you just don’t know what will happen. Besides, Luan was introduced for Grêmio and although Flu were still on top, the classy playmaker added a big threat to Grêmio’s attacks.
Soon enough though, despite a little bit more threat from Grêmio once again Fluminense were ahead. Matheus Ferraz was tugged by Kannemann at a corner and the ref awarded the spot kick to Flu. A little harsh perhaps, but ultimately Kannemann only has himself to blame. Pedro, back from injury and on as a sub, calmly scored the penalty.
There was still enough time for anything to happen and sure enough it did. Grêmio equalised when Kannemann powered in a header from a corner. But then Yony González struck the ball beautifully as it fell to him in the box, taking a deflection past Julio Cesar and into the net. Grêmio 4 Fluminense 5. 92 minutes gone. Two minutes of injury time to go.
Still time for more drama and there nearly was: a long ball was launched into the box, which cleared by Fluminense, but not before seemingly hitting a defenders arm. The decision went to a VAR review as Grêmio’s players surrounded and harassed the referee. Finally, after more than six minutes injury time the decision went Fluminense’s way. No penalty. Grêmio 4 Fluminense 5. Final score.
There aren’t many 5 – 4 matches to savour in any league around the world. I’m delighted that I stayed up to watch it. Incidentally, the last 5-4 I remember watching was a classic between Santos and Flamengo, which ended 5-4 to the away team. That, like last night, after the home team had raced into a three goal lead within half an hour.
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