Vacso holds lead with draw vs. Corinthians
Vasco da Gama and Corinthians drew 2-2 in a battle of leaders in the Brazilian league on Sunday, while Sao Paulo lost 2-1 to Flamengo at home in a match that marked the return of striker Luis Fabiano.
Vasco led 1-0 and 2-1 at its Sao Januario stadium in Rio de Janeiro, but Corinthians earned the draw thanks to a header by midfielder Danilo in the 66th minute.
Vasco reached 50 points from 27 matches, maintaining a two-point lead over Corinthians. It has a four-point advantage over third-place Sao Paulo, which lost to Flamengo after conceding an 85th-minute goal at the Morumbi stadium.
Luis Fabiano returned to Sao Paulo in March but was yet to play because of injuries. He was substituted in the 60th minute.
Defending champion Fluminense allowed a last-minute equalizer but scored in injury-time to defeat Santos 3-2 on Saturday, moving closer to the leaders in fifth place.
At Sao Januario, striker Dede opened the scoring for Vasco with a header in the 15th, but playmaker Alex equalized for Corinthians five minutes later after a cross into the penalty area. Right back Fagner put Vasco ahead again one minute into first-half injury time, chipping the ball over Corinthians goalkeeper Julio Cesar, but Danilo evened the score by beating two defenders in the air to head in a right-flank cross.
Vasco had a goal disallowed for offside in the 75th, when Fagner appeared to be just in front of the defensive line inside the area.
The result kept Vasco unbeaten in six matches, but the four-time Brazilian champion has not won at home in two rounds. Vasco won the Brazilian Cup earlier this year, but it hasn't won the league title since 2000.
At Morumbi, Sao Paulo missed a chance to get closer to the leaders in front of nearly 64,000 fans who packed the stadium to see Luis Fabiano's return to the club where he thrived from 2001 to 2004, scoring more than 60 goals before moving to European football.
He was not effective in Sunday's match, though, his first in several months after undergoing surgery on a tendon near his knee. Coach Adilson Batista was heavily jeered when he replaced Luis Fabiano.
''It was the right call to take me out of the match,'' the striker said. ''We were playing a man down at that moment and I wasn't going to be able to play the entire second half.''
Luis Fabiano won the club world championship with Porto in 2004, and the following year he transferred to Sevilla and thrived with the Spanish club until returning to Sao Paulo. Luis Fabiano was Brazil's starter at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
Midfielder Thiago Neves opened the scoring for Flamengo with a header in the 64th, while striker Dagoberto equalized for Sao Paulo with a powerful shot from outside the area in the 78th. Midfielder Renato scored the winner in the 84th with a long-range shot that deflected off a Sao Paulo defender and fooled goalkeeper Rogerio Ceni.
Both teams lost a man in the second half with Sao Paulo young playmaker Lucas (54th) and Flamengo's Willians (70th) sent off for receiving two yellow cards.
It was Flamengo's second win in a row following 10 straight matches without a victory, moving to within six points of leader Vasco and remaining sixth in the 20-team standings. Two-time FIFA player of the year Ronaldinho started for Flamengo.
Sao Paulo, seeking its seventh league title, has drawn its last three matches, including two the last two at home.
Fourth-place Botafogo had a chance to overcome Corinthians but it lost 2-0 to Atletico Goianiense in Goiania. It is five points behind Vasco but has a game in hand.
On Saturday, Fluminense rallied to defeat Santos with a header by defender Marcio Rosario four minutes into second-half injury time in Volta Redonda.
Brazil striker Neymar put Santos ahead with a shot from inside the area in the 32nd, but Fluminense came back with a goal by midfielder Marquinho in the 39th and with another by striker Rafael Sobis in the 71st.
Fluminense defender Digao was sent off for a second yellow card in the 82nd and Santos - the Copa Libertadores champion - equalized in the 90th with a goal by recently signed Colombian striker Wason Renteria. Marcio Rosario gave Fluminense the victory off a corner kick in the game's last play.
Also Saturday, eight-time champion Palmeiras was held by last-place America to 1-1 draw at the Caninde stadium in Sao Paulo. Luiz Felipe Scolari's is eighth in the standings, 10 points behind Vasco.
In other results Sunday, second-to-last-place Atletico Paranaense beat Internacional 2-0 in Curitiba, while Gremio defeated struggling two-time national champion Cruzeiro 2-0 in Porto Alegre. Cruzeiro is only one spot above the relegation zone.
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