RIO DE JANEIRO - Brazilian champions
Flamengo bid a sad farewell to the Maracana on Sunday with a
tepid 0-0 draw against Santos in their last match before the
giant stadium is closed for a 2014 World Cup revamp.
Flamengo, who have failed to recapture their 2009 form and
are under their third coach this season, are 14th just five
points above the relegation zone after failing to win in their
last five matches.
Their Rio arch-rivals Fluminense lost their unbeaten record
in a 2-1 away loss to Guarani, however, and now lead the
Brazilian championship race by just one point from Corinthians,
who crushed Goias 5-1 on Saturday and have a game in hand.
At the halfway stage of the championship, Flu have 38
points from 19 matches, Corinthians 37 while Botafogo,
Cruzeiro, Santos and South American champions Internacional are
all on 31.
Flamengo, in new coach Silas's first and only match in
charge at the Maracana, had more of the ball against a Santos
side missing two of their bright young forwards - the injured
Paulo Henrique Ganso and suspended Neymar - but failed to
translate possession into goals.
Having to leave the Maracana, which is set to undergo a
$398-million refurbishment over the next three years, is
another blow for the club since the huge crowds Flamengo
attract are generally worth home points.
Originally, Rio city planned to leave the Maracana open to
half its 90,000 capacity until the end of the season so as not
to handicap Flu and Fla.
World Cup organisers, however, sought total closure of the
stadium this week to speed up work which starting six months
late. The two teams will play home games at grounds outside Rio
and at Botafogo's Engenhao.
"It's a situation I'd like to reverse with a piece of magic
or something like that," said Silas.
"But it's only in our day-to-day work that we can progress.
It's important to understand there are 19 matches (to go) and
we can't drop many points," he told reporters.
Flu were stunned by two goals from free kicks by Guarani
defenders Baiano and Fabao, one in each half, after taking a
13th-minute lead through Emerson.
Corinthians began Saturday's match with a nasty surprise
when Goias opening the scoring after seven minutes through left
After Bruno Cesar equalised at the end of the first half,
however, Corinthians ran riot in the second with two goals from
striker Iarley, one by Jorge Henrique and a Marcao own goal.
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