Sao Paulo rallies to beat Ituano 4-2
Sao Paulo erased a two-goal deficit to beat Ituano 4-2 on Sunday and retain the lead in the Sao Paulo state championship on another weekend overshadowed by a death in Brazilian football.
In Goiania, Vila Nova defeated Goias 3-2 a day after a 23-year-old Goias supporter was shot dead in a confrontation between rival groups from both clubs, becoming the fourth fatality resulting from fan violence in less than a month in Brazil.
In other matches, former Portugal striker Liedson scored twice as Brazil champion Corinthians beat Oeste 3-0, while defending Sao Paulo state champion Santos beat Portuguesa 2-0 despite playing without striker Neymar.
In the Rio Cup, the second stage of the Rio de Janeiro tournament, Vagner Love scored twice in Flamengo’s 2-1 win over Bangu, while Fluminense and Botafogo drew 1-1 in a match in which Argentine striker German Herrera twice hit the post, including in second-half injury time.
Ituano led 2-0 after 32 minutes after goals from Anderson Salles in the 10th minute and an an own goal by Rhodolfo, but the Sao Paulo defender rebounded with goals in the 56th and 60th to equalize at the Novelli Junior stadium in Itu.
Brazil playmaker Lucas put Sao Paulo ahead in the 67th and young striker Willian Jose secured the victory in the 76th.
With two rounds left before the playoffs, Sao Paulo is level with Corinthians with 40 points, but is ahead on goal difference. Santos is four points behind in third place, and Palmeiras is five points off the lead in fourth. The top eight clubs in the 20-team standings advance to the playoff round.
For Corinthians, Liedson ended his 13-game drought when he scored in the 10th and 90th minutes.
”It’s a big relief to have scored again,” Liedson said. ”It will make things easier for me going forward.”
Forward Willian scored the other goal for Corinthians in the 64th. Oeste played a man down after defender Neno was sent off with a second yellow card in the 32nd minute.
Defending champion Santos beat Portuguesa at the Caninde stadium in Sao Paulo despite playing with a second-string team. Neymar, Paulo Henrique Ganso and the rest of the starters were rested ahead of the team’s match against fellow Brazilian club Internacional in the Copa Libertadores on Wednesday.
On Saturday, Luiz Felipe Scolari’s Palmeiras struggled and lost 1-0 to Mirassol at home. Striker Preto scored a 63rd-minute winner for Mirassol at the Pacaembu stadium.
In Rio, midfielder Elkeson opened the scoring for Botafogo in the 18th, but striker Fred equalized for Fluminense in the 36th at the Engenhao stadium. Herrera nearly broke the deadlock two minutes into second-half injury time, but his header struck the post. He had already hit the woodwork with a low shot in the 63rd with Fluminense goalkeeper Diego Cavalieri beaten on the play.
”Cavalieri needs to go kiss the post today,” Herrera said. ”He is a very good goalkeeper, but he was lucky in those two plays.”
Before the match, police detained 60 Botafogo fans who reportedly were waiting for buses carrying rival Fluminense fans near the Engenhao. The group, including about 10 minors, were carrying rocks and pieces of wood, according to police. The fan group was not allowed to enter the stadium.
Ronaldinho’s Flamengo got past Bangu 2-1 with a pair of first-half goals by former CSKA striker Vagner Love in Macae.
On Saturday, World Cup veteran Juninho scored twice as Vasco da Gama defeated Macae 4-1. Diego Souza and Eder Luis also netted for Vasco.
The top two teams in each of the two groups will advance to the Rio Cup semifinals. Flamengo and Botafogo lead Group A, while Vasco and Bangu are ahead in Group B, in front of Fluminense, which won the Guanabara Cup, the tournament’s first stage, and is already secured in the Rio state final against the Rio Cup winner.
The Brazilian league won’t start until May, and regional championships are played in the first months of the year in Brazil, which does not follow the European calendar.