Petkovic farewell ends in draw

Flamengo drew 1-1 with Corinthians in the Brazilian league on Sunday in a match that marked the farewell of Serbian playmaker Dejan Petkovic.

The 38-year-old Petkovic is retiring after spending nearly a decade with Rio de Janeiro’s most historic teams – Flamengo, Fluminense and Vasco da Gama.

He hadn’t been in Flamengo’s starting lineup lately but was allowed to play the first half of Sunday’s match to commemorate his retirement.

Flamengo fans honored Petkovic by holding up cards that formed his name and the colors of Serbia’s flag – red, blue and white. All Flamengo players had the Petkovic’s name on the back of their jersey’s.

”I’m moved, all this is really wonderful,” Petkovic said. ”It’s incredible everything that has been done for me.”

Before the match, Flamengo president Patricia Amorim gave Petkovic a plaque honoring him for his time with the club.

In addition to playing for the three Rio teams, Petkovic also played for Brazilian sides Santos, Goias, Atletico Mineiro and Vitoria. He briefly played for Real Madrid, Sevilla and Racing Santander early in his career, and also had stints in clubs in China and Saudi Arabia. In the late 1990s, he played international football for the former Yugoslavia.

Despite the celebration on Sunday, Petkovic – who was not in the plans of Flamengo coach Vanderlei Luxemburgo this season – had a lackluster performance in the minutes he played at the Engenhao stadium, making passing mistakes and losing possession several times.

Former Brazil star Ronaldinho also had a sub-par outing for Flamengo, although he nearly scored when his low shot from outside the area struck the post in the second half.

Corinthians, Brazil’s second most popular club behind Flamengo, opened the scoring with striker Willian in the 19th minute, and midfielder Renato scored the equalizer with a free kick in the 40th.

Corinthians was trying to win its third consecutive match. The only clubs who can still have a perfect start to the Brazilian league are Sao Paulo and Atletico Mineiro, which each have won twice and will meet on Wednesday to close out the third round.

Also Sunday, Coritiba routed Vasco 5-1 in Curitiba with midfielder Anderson Aquino scoring three first-half goals.

Both teams played without regular starters because they will meet again in three days in the Brazilian Cup final. Vasco won the first leg 1-0 last week and can clinch the title with a draw on Wednesday, again at the Couto Pereira stadium in Curitiba.

Argentine playmaker Andres D’Alessandro and Argentine striker Fernando Cavenaghi scored a goal each to help Internacional defeat America 4-2 in Mato Grosso do Sul, while striker Junior Vicosa scored twice to give Gremio a 2-0 victory over recently promoted Bahia at Olimpico stadium in Porto Alegre.

Former Gremio forward Borges scored twice in Santos’ 3-1 win over Avai at Vila Belmiro stadium. Santos coach Muricy Ramalho rested some players ahead of the Copa Libertadores final against Uruguay’s Penarol, and he also could not count on Neymar and Elano, who are with the Brazilian national team.

On Saturday, defending champion Fluminense won its second in a row after an opening home loss, beating Cruzeiro 2-1 at the Engenhao.

Palmeiras picked up its second win with a 1-0 result against Atletico Paranaense at Caninde stadium in Sao Paulo. Atletico, the 2001 national champion, has lost all its three matches.

Also Saturday, Ceara drew Botafogo in Fortaleza, while Figueirense defeated Atletico Goianiense 2-0 in Florianopolis.