Brazilian League Roundup, Feb. 28
Young striker Neymar scored a goal and set up another and Santos
defeated nine-man Corinthians 2-1 to win its ninth in a row and
maintain its lead in the Sao Paulo state championship on Sunday.
Santos got the win despite playing without Robinho, who is with the Brazilian national team for a friendly against Ireland on Tuesday in London. Robinho returned to Santos on a loan from Manchester City.
Neymar, called by many the new Robinho, bounced back from a missed a penalty kick in the seventh minute with a goal from just inside the area in the 33rd, turning and firing a low shot past Corinthians goalkeeper Felipe.
The 18-year-old Neymar then set up teammate Andre with a perfect through ball for Santos' second goal in the 60th.
Defending champion Corinthians got on the board with striker Dentinho in the 69th, finding the net after his first shot struck the post.
But Corinthians' rally at Vila Belmiro stadium in Santos was dampened by consecutive sendings off shortly after the goal.
Substitute right back Moacir was red carded for a hard foul in the 72nd, and veteran left back Roberto Carlos was sent off for diving in the 75th. Both players already had a yellow card.
Roberto Carlos, who also made the foul that prompted the early penalty kick missed by Neymar, had already been red carded against rival Palmeiras earlier in the championship.
The result kept alive Santos' nine-match winning streak, including a victory in the Brazilian Cup. The team has won every match since Robinho signed his loan deal in late January, six matches ago.
Santos leads the 20-team standings with 28 points from 11 matches. It has a four-point advantage over Santo Andre and a seven-point edge over Botafogo. The top four teams advance to the tournament's semifinal stage, which will begin in April.
Corinthians, which dropped to fifth on the table with 19 points, lost to Santos even though veteran striker Ronaldo played the entire match. The 33-year-old star complained of the refereeing.
"We were hurt from the beginning," Ronaldo said. "The referee made a lot of mistakes on both sides, but especially against us."
Corinthians rival Sao Paulo moved to fourth by routing Monte Azul 5-1 at Arena Barueri. Substitute midfielder Fernandinho scored four second-half goals in his debut with Sao Paulo, which bounced back from a 2-1 loss to Once Caldas in the Copa Libertadores on Wednesday in Colombia.
Sao Paulo was still without coach Ricardo Gomes, who is successfully recovering from a minor stroke suffered last weekend after the team's loss to rival Palmeiras.
In the first round of the Rio Cup, the second stage of the Rio de Janeiro state championship, Fluminense trashed Friburguense 5-1 at Maracana stadium. Former Lyon striker Fred and Argentine midfielder Dario Conca scored a goal each to help Fluminense to the win.
Botafogo, which won the Guanabara Cup last week to secure a spot in the Rio state final against the winner of the Rio Cup, beat host Americano 3-1 at Godofredo Cruz stadium on Saturday. Botafogo can automatically win the state title if it also wins the Rio Cup.
Defending Rio champion Flamengo defeated Macae 4-1 in Volta Redonda behind two goals by former CSKA Moscow striker Vagner Love, who also set up the two goals scored by midfielder Vinicius Pacheco. Flamengo got the win on Saturday despite playing without forward Adriano and midfielder Kleberson, who also had to report to the Brazilian national team.
Two matches started at 8 a.m. local time because of a Rio law that prohibits games from being played between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. because of the intense heat in the city. The matches couldn't start at 5 p.m. because the stadiums lacked lighting equipment.