Brazilian League Roundup, Nov. 21

Argentine playmaker Dario Conca scored two goals and set up two
others on Sunday to help Fluminense beat Sao Paulo 4-1 and move to
the top of the standings with two rounds to go in the Brazilian
league.

Fluminense moved past Corinthians, which was held to a 1-1 draw
with Vitoria in Salvador in a match in which striker Ronaldo was
substituted in the first half because of a muscle injury.

Seeking its first league title since 1984, Fluminense has 65
points, one more than Corinthians and five more than Cruzeiro,
which will host Vasco later on Sunday.

Conca, touted by many as the league’s top player this year,
participated in all of Fluminense’s goals at the Arena Barueri just
outside Sao Paulo.

Fluminense first scored on a header by defender Gum off a corner
by Conca in the 34th minute.

Sao Paulo equalized with a goal by Lucas in the 56th, but Conca
put his team ahead with a shot from inside the area in the 74th.
Former Lyon striker Fred increased Fluminense’s lead from a rebound
by Conca’s long-range shot in the 78th.

Conca scored his second goal with a firm left-footer from
outside the box in the 88th, extending Fluminense’s unbeaten streak
to seven matches.

Sao Paulo, a six-time champion stuck in the middle of the
standings this year, finished the match two men down. Defender
Xandao was red-carded for a hard foul in the 63rd, and midfielder
Richarlyson was sent off in the 70th for complaining about a foul
called against him.

Corinthians lost the standings lead in the match against
Vitoria, a team struggling to avoid relegation to the second
division.

Midfielder Danilo opened the scoring at Barradao stadium after a
perfect pass from Ronaldo in the 21st. But Vitoria equalized with a
penalty converted by Colombian goalkeeper Julian Viafara in the
44th following a handball by midfielder Ralf.

Ronaldo, who was playing in his seventh consecutive match, was
substituted in the 30th with an apparent right thigh injury.

Vitoria striker Junior had a goal disallowed due to a
controversial offside call in the 65th, prompting several
complaints from players and coaches. Corinthians was coming off a
contentious 1-0 win over Cruzeiro that contained a late penalty for
Ronaldo.

Also Sunday, Botafogo lost 2-1 to Copa Libertadores champion
Internacional at Engenhao stadium in Rio de Janeiro, while Luiz
Felipe Scolari’s Palmeiras – resting all regular starters ahead of
the second leg of the Copa Sudamericana semifinals against Goias on
Wednesday – lost 2-0 to Atletico Mineiro in Araraquara.

On Saturday, defending champion Flamengo moved away from
relegation with a 2-1 victory over Guarani at the Engenhao. Coach
Vanderlei Luxemburgo’s team, Brazil’s most popular, needs at least
a draw in each of the final two matches to remain in the top flight
next season.

Also, Gremio defeated Atletico Paranaense 3-1 in Porto Alegre to
move to fourth place, in position to secure a berth in next year’s
Copa Libertadores.

The top three teams will earn a spot in Latin America’s most
important competition, and the fourth-placed club will qualify
unless a Brazilian team wins the Copa Sudamericana to automatically
advance to the Copa Libertadores.

Three teams have already secured their return to the top flight
next year, Coritiba, Figueirense and 1988 national champion Bahia.
Coritiba won the second-division title with a 1-1 draw with Icasa
on Saturday.