and Bernardo scored the late goals that gave Vasco da Gama a
dramatic 2-1 victory over title holders Fluminense to take the
Brazilian championship race to the wire on Sunday.
Leaders Corinthians won 1-0 at Figueirense and were
preparing to celebrate their fifth national crown when Bernardo
scored a last-minute winner at the Engenhao in the Rio derby.
Corinthians have 70 points and Vasco 68 going into next
weekend's final round of matches when a draw will be enough for
the leaders if the two teams finish equal on points since they
have won more matches than their rivals.
Both will play derbies next weekend when Corinthians meet
Palmeiras in Sao Paulo and Vasco face arch-rivals Flamengo in
Rio without their former Olympique Lyon midfielder Juninho and
forward Diego Souza who will be suspended.
"It's going to be a very, very long week. It's tough. It's
an historic derby because of the greatness of Corinthians and
Palmeiras," Corinthians coach Tite told reporters.
Brazilian-born former Portugal striker Liedson scored the
only goal at Figueirense midway through the second half, while
all the goals at the Engenhao came in the final quarter of an
Striker Alecsandro came off the bench in the 71st minute and
within six minutes he had headed Vasco into the lead from a
cross by Felipe Bastos.
Brazil striker Fred scored his eighth goal in three matches
for outgoing champions Fluminense who are six points behind
Vasco in third.
With their nerves raw, Vasco had Leandro sent off from the
bench for protesting and trying to attack the referee before
Bernardo's winning goal brought relief and kept their title
"I'm so happy to have helped, to have come on... it was a
decisive moment and I always dreamt of experiencing a moment
like that," said an emotional Bernardo.
Vasco, who won the Copa Brasil this season, are also in the
semi-finals of the Copa Sudamericana, the region's second club
competition, travelling to face Universidad de Chile on
Wednesday in the second leg in Santiago with the tie poised at
Fourth-placed Flamengo need a draw against Vasco to secure
their place in next year's Copa Libertadores, South America's
elite club championship.
After a 1-0 win over Internacional secured with a goal from
captain Ronaldinho ended a run of three matches without a win,
they are three points ahead of three teams also vying for the
fifth Copa Libertadores berth, Coritiba, Inter and Figueirense.
Twice Copa Libertadores winners Cruzeiro were held 2-2 at
home by Ceara and remain in danger of relegation.
Cruzeiro are one point above the drop zone, a point ahead of
Ceara and two in front of Atletico Paranaense, and next weekend
face Belo Horizonte city rivals Atletico Mineiro, who would love
to put the last nail in their coffin.
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