RIO DE JANEIRO - Fluminense beat nine-man
Sao Paulo 4-1 with two goals and a fine performance from their
diminutive Argentine playmaker Dario Conca to reclaim the lead
in the Brazilian championship on Sunday.
Having lost the lead last weekend with a draw at home to
lowly Goias, Fluminense took advantage of a slip by
Corinthians, who were held 1-1 at relegation candidates
Vitoria, to snatch a one-point lead with two matches to go.
Flu have 65 points, Corinthians 64 and Cruzeiro 63 after a
3-1 win over Vasco da Gama, promising a nail-biting finish.
"We mustn't get over-excited... we must keep our feet on
the ground. I'm sufficiently experienced not to get
over-excited. There are two games to go and we still have to be
very conscious of that," Flu coach Muricy Ramalho told
"I'm certainly happy with our place in the (2011)
Libertadores Cup. That's very important for Fluminense," added
Ramalho, who won the Brazilian title three times with Sao Paulo
between 2006 and 2008.
Gum headed Fluminense in front from a corner in the 36th
minute then equalised for the home side with an own goal 10
minutes after half-time.
Sao Paulo then lost defender Xandao and midfielder
Richarlyson, sent off for violent fouls between the 63rd and
Conca profited from the greater space against nine men to
hit a lovely left-footed volley and put Flu ahead 15 minutes
Three minutes later, goalkeeper Rogerio Ceni parried a shot
by Conca and striker Fred netted the rebound before the
Argentine scored again from outside the box two minutes from
Sao Paulo fans were as happy with the victory as the
visitors because their arch-rivals Corinthians had been
displaced as leaders.
Fred recalled that Fluminense, looking for their second
national title since 1984, only just escaped relegation in
their final match last season.
"We got out of that difficult situation last year to now be
fighting for the title. We had to control our anxiety, we
talked on the pitch about playing the ball around. We managed
to do that."
Corinthians suffered an extra disappointment because former
Brazil striker Ronaldo suffered his fifth thigh injury since
January after half an hour and will miss the run-in.
Outgoing champions Flamengo virtually ensured they would
not be relegated with a 2-1 home win, only their ninth victory
in 36 matches, over Guarani in Rio on Saturday.
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