By Robbie Blakeley, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – In one of the most close run title races in history, Fluminense re-assumed the top position after a comprehensive win in São Paulo, while Corinthians were held to a 1-1 draw by Vitoria. Flamengo also earned victory in Round 36, overcoming a stubborn Guarani side. There was disappointment though for Botafogo and Vasco, who suffered defeats to Internacional and Cruzeiro respectively.
The final weeks of the 40th Campeonato Brasileiro Série A, which began on May 8th is scheduled to end on December 5th. At this point all Carioca fans are watching Fluminense, hoping to keep the title in the Marvelous City.
Flamengo 2-1 Guarani
Diego Mauricio earned Flamengo three points on Saturday night in the Engenhao. It took three minutes for the Rubro Negro to take the lead. On a familiar surge forward, Renato was felled 35 yards from the goal. The distance did not phase the veteran, and he struck an almighty left footed curler beyond Emerson.
Guarani responded positively, and were level ten minutes later. Baiano nipped in front of Lomba to flick the ball home. But it was Flamengo’s midfield that were stamping their authority on the game, and Maldonado fed Renato, only for Emerson to save at his near post.
On 33 minutes, Flamengo scored the winner, Diego Mauricio firing in from a tight angle. It was Flamengo who continued to press in the second half, both Maldonado and Petkovic going close with long range shots, but their first half efforts were enough to take all three points.
Botafogo 1-2 Internacional
Inter’s reserve team beat Botafogo in their own back yard. After an even first half, Andrezinho gave the visitors the lead with a well drilled shot from the edge of the area. Ten minutes later, Rafael Sobis made it 2-0. A low cross from the left found the Brazilian international completely unmarked eight yards from goal, and the striker was left with the simple task of slotting the ball home.
Botafogo pulled a goal back a minute later, Antonio Carlos rifling in from close range after a prolonged session of head tennis. But in the final fifteen minutes the hosts failed to turn possession into opportunity, and came away with nothing.
São Paulo 1-4 Fluminense
Fluminense stormed past São Paulo in the Morumbi on Sunday to go back to the top of the table. Washington thought he had given Flu the lead early on, only to see his effort chalked off for offside. But Flu went in front after 34 minutes, Gum heading in Conca’s corner.
Five minutes into the second half, Washington missed a sitter to give the Rio side a two goal advantage. Picked out by Deco, the striker took far too long bringing the ball under control, giving Rogerio Ceni ample time to close down the angle and make the save. Flu were made to pay when Lucas Gaucho brought the scores level with a cheeky back heel from four yards.
Two moments of madness saw São Paulo reduced to nine men. First, Xandao was given a red card for a professional foul and then Richarlyson was to follow for stamping on Rodriguinho. Flu made their two man advantage count, Conca firing them back in front with his dangerous left foot. Fred added the third after Ceni was unable to hold Conca’s long range shot. Conca put the icing on the cake with an excellent 25 yarder that flew past Ceni and put the result beyond doubt.
Cruzeiro 3-1 Vasco
Cruzeiro brushed aside Vasco on Sunday to maintain their push for the title. The hosts completely dominated the first half, and took the lead after thirteen minutes through Roger. They were two goals to the good soon after, when Montillo crossed for Henrique to head past Fernando Prass.
After half an hour, the game was wrapped up as a contest, Edcarlos scoring Cruzeiro’s third from the penalty spot. Renato Augusto pulled one back for the Cariocas with a beautiful shot from the edge of the area, but the second half resembled little more than an exhibition match as Cruzeiro passed the ball at will under little pressure from their lackluster opponents.