Corinthians moved a step closer to clinching the Brazilian Campeonato title after edging past Figueirense 1-0 in the penultimate round of fixtures.
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Liedson scored the only goal of the game in the 68th minute as Corinthians remained two points clear of second-placed Vasco da Gama, who kept alive their own hopes with a last-gasp 2-1 win at third-placed Fluminense.
Vasco looked set to drop two potentially decisive points against the outgoing champions when a 77th-minute opener from substitute Alecsandro was cancelled out by Fluminense forward Fred with six minutes remaining.
However, with the match having entered stoppage time, another Vasco replacement Bernardo found the back of the net to earn his side the win and keep them within touching distance of Corinthians.
Corinthians complete their campaign at home to Palmeiras while Vasco host fourth-placed Flamengo – both matches being local derbies to add spice to the final round of the season.
At the other end of the table, second-bottom America MG’s valiant late bid to escape relegation looks set to fail despite picking up a fourth win in their last five matches with a 2-1 triumph over Atletico Paranaense.
Despite that victory, which was secured with an 81st-minute winner from Gilson, America are still three points adrift of safety following 16th-placed Cruzeiro’s 2-2 draw at fellow strugglers Ceara.
Ceara opened the scoring through Oswaldo in the 20th minute but they needed an 82nd-minute equaliser from Daniel to salvage a point after Cruzeiro had hit back with goals from Ramon Anselmo and Jose Maria Ortigoza.
Already-relegated Avai lost their 21st match of the season after going down to a late Jeci goal at Coritiba, who climbed up to fifth spot after the four teams immediately above them at the start of the day – Internacional, Figueirense, Sao Paulo and Botafogo – all suffered defeats today.
A Ronaldinho goal on the stroke of half-time earned Flamengo a 1-0 win over International and kept them three points ahead of Coritiba, while Botafogo crashed to a 4-0 loss at Atletico Mineiro, for whom Daniel Carvalho, Andre De Souza (two) and Leonardo Silva netted.
Sao Paulo, meanwhile, were beaten 1-0 at Palmeiras, Marcos Assuncao’s 56th-minute strike proving the difference.
In Sunday’s other two matches, Gremio drew 2-2 with Atletico Goianiense while Santos and Bahia played out a 1-1 tie.