Corinthians won the
Brazilian championship for the fifth time on Sunday on the final
day of the season following the death in hospital of their
former midfielder Socrates, the Brazil 1982 World Cup captain.
Needing only a point from their derby against Sao Paulo city
arch-rivals Palmeiras, Corinthians drew 0-0 to finish on 71 from
38 matches, two points ahead of closest challengers Vasco da
The race to the title, Corinthians' first since they won it
in 2005 led by Argentina striker Carlos Tevez, went to the wire
after Vasco scored a last-minute winner against outgoing
champions Fluminense last weekend.
Both sides finished the match with nine men each at the
Pacaembu in Sao Paulo.
Fighting broke out near the end between players of the two
teams after Corinthians forward Jorge Henrique juggled the ball
keeping possession and Palmeiras defender Joao Vitor took
offence, fouled him and was sent off.
Corinthians' central defender Leandro Castan was also sent
off after the melee. Palmeiras's Chilean midfielder Jorge
Valdivia had been red-carded just after half-time and Wallace of
Corinthians was sent off midway through the second half.
Vasco, who needed a win and a loss for Corinthians, were
held 1-1 by their Rio arch-rivals Flamengo in a derby at the
Engenhao that was also marred by a red card for each team in the
final 20 minutes.
Striker Diego Souza put Vasco ahead after half-an-hour but
Flamengo captain Ronaldinho laid on a 55th-minute equaliser for
Renato Abreu with a fine 40-metre pass.
"This triumph crowns a job well done," Corinthians forward
Alex told reporters on the Pacaembu pitch.
"It's a shame Dr Socrates isn't with us to celebrate because
surely he was going to be a part of this party, but this title
remains as a homage to him too."
Socrates, a practising doctor after he retired who helped
Corinthians win three Sao Paulo state championships during his
six years at the club, died of septic shock in a Sao Paulo
hospital at the age of 57.
Before the match in Sao Paulo, Corinthians' players gathered
in the centre circle and each raised a clenched fist in homage
to the team's former captain mimicking his trademark goal
celebration during a minute's silence that was also observed at
the day's other matches.
Vasco, despite Sunday's disappointment, had a good season
winning the Copa Brasil knockout competition and reaching the
semi-finals of the Copa Sudamericana, South America's equivalent
of the Europa League.
Fluminense, who finished third, Flamengo and Internacional
also qualified for next year's Copa Libertadores, the region's
Twice Libertadores winners Cruzeiro began the day in danger
of relegation after a poor season but secured their top flight
survival in style crushing city rivals Atletico Mineiro 6-1 in
the Belo Horizonte derby.
Atletico Paranaense and Ceara were relegated, joining Avai
and America-MG who had already been doomed to the drop.
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