Brazilian League Roundup, Nov. 28
Fluminense rallied to a 2-1 win over Palmeiras on Sunday to keep a one-point lead over Corinthians going into the final round of the Brazilian league.
Left back Carlinhos and midfielder Tarta scored for Fluminense, which reached 68 points ahead of next weekend's decisive matches. Corinthians defeated Vasco 2-0 to reach 67 points, one more than Cruzeiro, which remained in contention by beating Flamengo 2-1.
Fluminense is trying to win the Brazilian league for the first time in 26 years. The club won its first and only championship under coach Carlos Alberto Parreira in 1984.
Corinthians, which has four league titles, played Sunday's match without injured striker Ronaldo.
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Fluminense will play its last match at home against already relegated Guarani, while Corinthians travels to play Goias, a team also already demoted to the second division. Cruzeiro hosts Palmeiras and needs to win its match and hope the top two title contenders falter.
Corinthians needs to beat Goias and hope Fluminense fails to defeat Guarani, but even a draw will be enough if Fluminense loses.
Fluminense had a scare at the Arena Barueri when Palmeiras opened the scoring with a long-range angled shot by striker Dinei just five minutes into the match.
Carlinhos equalized with a shot from the top of the penalty area in the 18th, and midfielder Tarta scored Fluminense's winner in the 59th.
Tarta entered the match in the first half to replace former Chelsea playmaker Deco, who left because of an injury.
Palmeiras was coming off a disappointing elimination to Goias in front of its home fans in the semifinals of the Copa Sudamericana, but the team coached by Luiz Felipe Scolari played with most of its regular starters even though it is only in the middle of the standings in the Brazilian league and had nothing to win or lose on Sunday.
Palmeiras fans were cheering for Fluminense because they didn't want archrival Corinthians to move ahead of Fluminense in the title hunt.
Corinthians scored at Pacaembu stadium with a left-footer by midfielder Bruno Cesar in the 40th. Vasco defender Dede tried to deflect the ball in front of the goal mouth but it went in past goalkeeper Fernando Prass.
Midfielder Danilo, in the starting lineup to replace injured veteran striker Ronaldo, added to Corinthians' lead in the 58th after a cross by former Brazil left back Roberto Carlos.
It remains unclear whether Ronaldo will recover from a right thigh muscle injury in time for the final match against Goias.
Corinthians, trying to win its first league title since 2005, played with an extra man from the 73rd because Vasco midfielder Ze Roberto was sent off with a second yellow card.
Cruzeiro went trailing in Minas Gerais when Flamengo striker Diego Mauricio scored from inside the area in the 10th, but former Benfica midfielder Roger equalized with a free kick in the 17th and striker Thiago Ribeiro gave his team the lead with a header from a cross by Argentine midfielder Walter Montillo in the 69th.
Defending champion Flamengo, Brazil's most popular club, escaped relegation despite the loss to Cruzeiro. The team coached by Vanderlei Luxemburgo is 15th in the 20-team standings but it cannot be surpassed in the final round.
Atletico Mineiro, the 1971 champion, also escaped demotion after a 3-1 victory over Goias in Minas Gerais, while Avai rallied from two goals down to beat Santos 3-2 at home to secure a spot in the top flight next year. Neymar scored both goals for Santos, seventh in the standings.
The two teams still in danger of relegation are Vitoria, which drew 1-1 with Copa Libertadores champion Internacional in Porto Alegre, and Atletico Goianiense, which drew 1-1 with six-time champion Sao Paulo in Goiania. Vitoria will host Atletico Goianiense in the next round and a draw will be enough for Atletico.
Gremio downed Guarani 3-0 in Campinas to stay in fourth place and in position to secure a berth in next year's Copa Libertadores.
The top three teams earn a spot in Latin America's most important competition, and the fourth-place club will qualify unless Goias wins the Copa Sudamericana to automatically advance to the Copa Libertadores.
Gremio has 60 points, one more than Botafogo and three more than Atletico Paranaense. Botafogo beat last-place Prudente 3-1 in Rio and Atletico Paranaense was held to a 1-1 draw with Ceara in Fortaleza.
On Saturday, America of Minas Gerais drew 0-0 with Ponte Preta to secure its return to the first division. Coritiba, Figueirense and Bahia had already clinched their spots back in the top flight. Goias, Guarani and Prudente have been relegated.