Botafogo, with a brace from the Spanish-Brazilian Diego Costadefeated Bahía 3-0 this Sunday in a match for the 21st round of the Brazilian championship and remained top of the standings with a solid eleven-point lead over Palmeiras, their escort in the standings.
The Rio de Janeiro team scored 51 points in 21 games (16 wins, 3 draws and only 2 losses) and held a large advantage over their pursuers for several rounds, which they now used with 17 rounds before the end of the tournament.
In addition to winning their home game, Botafogo benefited from setbacks from two of his pursuerssince Flamengo and Fluminense had equal commitments, and now he is joined by Palmeiras (40 points), who barely beat Vasco da Gama 1-0, and Gremio (36 points), who beat Cruzeiro 3-0.
The leader, commanded by Portuguese coach Bruno Lage, dominated the home game, the Nilton Santos Stadium in Rio de Janeiroand won with two goals from Diego Costa in his first game as a starter and another from young Luis Henrique.
The 34-year-old former Atlético de Madrid forward, who Botafogo hired just two weeks ago to replace the injured Tiquino Soares, a league top scorer whose return is still uncertain, it took him just three minutes to open the scoring after a submission by Victor Sá in the penalty area.
Diego Costa increased the score after 5 minutes of the second half Header after Gabriel Pires capitalized on a mistake by Marcos Felipe and found the striker free in the box.
Luis Henrique completed the goal 30 minutes into the second half in a deadly counterattack by Hugo that saw the youngster overtake his guards, escaping the keeper and firing towards the empty goal.
Despite the high score in favor of locals, The duel between the Portuguese coaches Bruno Lage and Renato Paiva was quite balanced and had chances for both sides, but Botafogo had Diego Costa’s goal and the effectiveness of goalkeeper Lucas Perri, who thwarted several scoring chances for Bahía.
While Botafogo consolidated its lead, Bahía fell dangerously back to sixteenth place, threatened to slip into the bottom four, which will be punished with relegation.
Palmeiras, reigning Brazilian champions and second overall, kept pace with the leader by beating Vasco da Gama 1-0 through a goal by Raphael Veiga from a free kick in the 19th minute of the second half.
The group was led by Portuguese coach Abel Ferreira struggled to win at home, at Allianz Parkto a Vasco who knew how to defend himself and in which Chilean defender Gary Medel stood out.
And Gremio took advantage of the ties between Flamengo and Fluminense to jump to third place in the table their 3-0 win over Cruzeiro, with goals from Uruguay’s Luis Suáres and Felipe Carballo and midfielder Pepe.
Flamengo, who was third overall, missed the opportunity to get closer to the leader by giving up a 0-0 draw with Internacional at the Maracana on Saturday to finish fourth in the table, 15 points adrift of Botafogo.
The team from Rio de Janeiro, reigning champions of the Libertadores, owners of the most valuable line-up in Brazil and started the league as big favouritesHe left the stadium booed by his own fans after his faint against a national team player who played with several reserve players.
The draw has added to the crisis at Brazil’s most popular club after this month was eliminated by Paraguay Olimpia in the Libertadores Quarterfinals and left Argentina coach Jorge Sampaoli on the tightrope again.