Vasco beats Fluminense 1-0 to reach Rio final

SAO PAULO (AP) Striker Edmilson scored with a header just before halftime to help Vasco da Gama beat Fluminense 1-0 on Sunday and reach the final of the Rio de Janeiro state championship of the first time in 10 years.

Vasco da Gama advanced 2-1 on aggregate. Fluminense, the 2012 champion, had the tiebreaker advantage and could have advanced with a draw at the Maracana Stadium.

Vasco will play Flamengo, which beat Cabofriense 3-1 on Saturday to advance 6-1 on aggregate. Argentine midfielder Lucas Mugni scored two goals for the popular Brazilian club.

In the Sao Paulo state tournament, Santos beat Penapolense 3-2 to move into a final against Ituano, which had a 1-0 upset win over Palmeiras.

Edmilson scored the winner from close range in the 45th minute, hitting the upper left corner of the net with a firm header after a cross into the Fluminense area. It was the striker’s 11th goal, keeping him atop the tournament’s scoring list.

Vasco da Gama lost the 2004 final to Flamengo and hasn’t won the state title since 2003.

With its focus on the Copa Libertadores, defending champion Botafogo failed to get past the first stage of the state tournament.

In the Sao Paulo state championship, Santos struggled at home against Penapolense before Stefano Yuri’s 87th-minute winner secured the club’s spot in its sixth straight final. It won the title three of the last four years.

Palmeiras was aiming to reach its first final since it won the tournament in 2008, but Ituano scored in the 85th to disappoint the 30,000-plus Palmeiras fans at the Pacaembu Stadium. Palmeiras was hit by injuries of leading striker Alan Kardec, Chilean playmaker Jorge Valdivia and starting goalkeeper Fernando Prass.

Defending champion Corinthians was eliminated in the first stage and Sao Paulo lost in the quarterfinals.

In the Rio Grande do Sul state tournament, Internacional defeated Gremio 2-1 in the first leg of the final in Porto Alegre. Argentine striker Hernan Barcos put Gremio ahead in the first half but Inter rallied with a pair of goals by striker Rafael Moura.

Internacional defender Paulao said he heard racist chants against him from fans at the Arena Gremio. The return match is next week.

In Minas Gerais, Atletico Mineiro had a 1-1 draw with America to advance to the final 5-1 on aggregate. It will play rival Cruzeiro, which beat Boa Esporte 2-1 to advance 3-1 on aggregate. Ronladinho’s Atletico Mineiro has won two straight titles in the Minas Gerais state championship.

Regional tournaments are played in the beginning of the football season in Brazil, with the league beginning in April and ending in December.

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