RIO DE JANEIRO - Fluminense won the
Brazilian championship for the second time with a 1-0 home
victory over relegated Guarani on the final day on Sunday.
It is coach Muricy Ramalho's fourth title in five years
after winning three in a row with Sao Paulo from 2006 to 2008.
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A goal just past the hour from striker Emerson ensured the
45,000 home fans who packed the Enganhao stadium could celebrate
the end of a 26-year wait for the title by their team which
escaped relegation only on the final day of last season.
The title completes the climb of Fluminense from the third
division in 1999, having suffered successive relegations.
"It's very difficult to try to explain all this. These fans
deserved this title. It's 26 years, not 26 months or 26 weeks,
now it's time for the Fluminense fans to celebrate after a long
time without this joy," Emerson told reporters.
Fluminense, regarded as the most elite of the four big clubs
in Rio de Janeiro and who had waited the longest for the title,
finished with 71 points from 38 matches.
Cruzeiro overtook Corinthians to finish second two points
behind after a 2-1 home win over Palmeiras. Corinthians were
third with 68 points after being held 1-1 away to relegated
Sunday's last match was much harder than expected against a
committed young Guarani side who prevented Fluminense from
creating attacking moves and Emerson's goal calmed the nerves of
The man at the heart of Fluminense's campaign was diminutive
Argentine playmaker Dario Conca, who played in all their matches
in the championship and is favourite to win the Player of the
Year award on Monday.
He often led the team during long injury absences of
captain Fred and former Barcelona and Chelsea midfielder Deco,
the club' main recruit this season. Deco missed Sunday's match
Corinthians were the big disappointment of the championship
and, having exchanged the lead several times with Fluminense,
finished without a title in their centenary year.
The top three go into next year's Libertadores Cup with
holders Internacional and Copa Brasil winners Santos.
Fourth-placed Gremio will also qualify for South America's
elite club competition if Goias fail to win the final of the
Copa Sudamericana, the region's Europa League equivalent,
against Independiente of Argentina.
Goias go into this week's
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