Captain Fred struck four
goals as he led Fluminense to a thrilling 5-4 win over Gremio on
Wednesday that keeps alive their hopes of retaining the
Brazilian championship title.
With three matches to go, third-placed Fluminense are five
points behind Corinthians, who beat relegation candidates Ceara
1-0 away to take sole possession of first place with 64 points.
Vasco da Gama slipped two points behind Corinthians after a
1-1 draw away to Luiz Felipe Scolari's mid-table Palmeiras.
Fluminense appeared to have kissed goodbye to their title
after last weekend's shock home defeat by 19-placed America-MG
and when defender Rafael Marques put Gremio ahead in the 16th
minute at the Engenhao in Rio their prospects looked worse.
However, with former Barcelona, Chelsea and Portugal
midfielder Deco pulling the strings and Brazil striker Fred
lethal up front, "Flu" fought back for an emotional 11th victory
in 16 matches.
They were 2-1 down at half-time when Marquinhos scored with a
45th-minute free-kick after former Olympique Lyon striker Fred
After a second goal from Fred, another by former Brazil
striker Rafael Sobis put Fluminense ahead for the first time in
the match just past the hour.
Burly striker Brandao made it 3-3 with 20 minutes to go in
an open match with little marking and a lot of room to attack
and a minute later midfielder Adilson put Gremio back in front
with a lovely shot from outside the box.
Fred had the last words, though, scoring twice more in the
space of three minutes, his third goal a penalty, to settle the
match with nine minutes remaining.
Gremio had former Shakhtar Donetsk striker Brandao, who is
on loan from Olympique Marseille, sent off soon after.
Corinthians, who had some help from arch-rivals Palmeiras
since Scolari's team deprived their chief title rivals Vasco of
two points, only secured their victory with Peruvian substitute
Luis Ramirez's solo goal four minutes from time.
America continued their remarkable fight against relegation
with a third successive victory against a team from the top
five, beating Botafogo 2-1 at the Alligator's Arena after their
wins over Corinthians and Fluminense.
The team from Belo Horizonte, promoted this year, had only
won four of their previous 32 matches.
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