By Robbie Blakeley, Contributing Sports Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – An injury-time winner for Vasco against Fluminense in Sunday’s classico gave the Sao Januario club hope of capturing the 2011 Campeonato Brasileirão crown in next week’s final round of matches. Meanwhile, Flamengo kept their Libertadores hopes alive with a win over Internacional, whilst Botafogo’s dreadful form continued as they suffered a thrashing at Atletico-MG.
Bernardo’s last minute goal earned Vasco a 2-1 win over Fluminense in a tetchy and at times nerve-wracking match. The result kept Vasco two points behind Corinthians, who won 1-0 at Figueirense, with one round to go in the national championship tournament.
To win their second title in seven months next week, after their Copa do Brasil success in May, Vasco need to beat rivals Flamengo and hope Palmeiras can beat Corinthians in São Paulo. Fluminense play Botafogo on Sunday in the “Round of Classicos.”
After a first half best remembered for a succession of chances missed by Fluminense, most notably Marquinho who volleyed over from just eight yards, Vasco were jolted into action by the news that Liedson had given Corinthians the lead in Florianópolis .
With fifteen minutes to go, target man Alescandro headed in Bernardo’s cross from close range. It only took Flu five minutes to reply through their own number nine. The Tricolor captain found space in the Vasco area to control a cross on his chest and perform a beautiful swiveling volley to bring the scores level.
But Vasco finished the game hungrier and in the knowledge one more goal would keep the title fight open until the final weekend. This time, Alecsandro turned provider for Bernardo. The youngster had his header saved by Cavalieri before he turned in the rebound. Now their attention turns to their biggest fight of the season: Flamengo.
Flamengo will go into next week’s derby on the back of a vital 1-0 win over Internacional. The three points returned the Rubro-Negro to the G-5, where they will need to stay to qualify for 2012’s Copa Libertadores.
The result was cruel on Inter, who had dominated the entirety of the first half only to be hit by a Ronaldinho sucker punch just before the interval whistle. Up until his goal, when he brutally punished a lapse in Inter’s defense, R10 had barely touched the ball and risked the wrath of the Flamenguistas in another non-existent performance.
But his goal was calmly taken when he seized on a heavy touch from Rodrigo Moledo to steal in and slot home. It was his first goal in over two months.
Only goalkeeper Felipe stood between victory and defeat as the visitors carved open Fla’s defense time and time again. Damiao and Andrezinho both looked odds on to score before being blocked by the stopper.
Botafogo’s disastrous end to the season continued with a 4-0 defeat at Atletico-MG. It was the side’s sixth successive defeat and after the dismissal of Caio Junior ten days ago, the club’s hunt for a new manager must take immediate priority.