Monday, 19 July 2010

São Paulo Slip to Second Consecutive Defeat; Pet Lifts Flamengo into Top 4

The games continue to flow thick and fast in the Brasileirão, as the league plays catch-up in the wake of the World Cup. It was a bad weekend for São Paulo, who not only lost, but saw bitter city rivals Corinthians pull away at the head of the table. Flamengo continued their good form after the break, with a 1-0 away win against Atlético-GO, which sees them sneak into the top 4.

Vitória 3-2 São Paulo
Ricardo Gomes's São Paulo, fresh from a home loss to Avaí, were looking to get their league campaign back on track against Vitória in Salvador. The Tricolor are soon to play semi-final of the Copa Libertadores, but a full-strength starting XI at the Barradão suggested that the team's focus is, for now, wholly on the league. Vitória, however, have been quietly effective at home, and proved more than a match for the visitors.

Ramon (right) celebrates his goal.

The Leão enjoyed the majority of possession in the first period, and took the lead when Elkeson rose magnificently to head home Egídio's pinpoint cross. São Paulo's attacking output was limited to the occasional ineffective counter-attack, leaving Fernandão marooned up front for long periods. Against the run of play, however, the away side equalised. Right wing-back Jean finally ventured forward, and after swapping passes with Hernanes (easily São Paulo's standout player on the night), slid his shot into the corner of the net.

The leveller was evidently an affront to Ricardo Silva's men, who came bursting out of the traps in the second period to regain control of the game. Another beautiful Egídio cross was nodded home by Schwenk to make it 2-1, and Ramon added a third soon after. Elkeson's clever ball beat the offside trap, and the veteran striker kept his cool to stroke past Rogério Ceni. By this stage, the three points looked safe, but the ball-boys clearly didn't want to take any chances; amusingly, referee Marcelo de Lima Henrique was forced to dismiss two of them for being too slow in returning the ball to São Paulo players. The Tricolor did drag themselves back into contention via a Fernandão header, but couldn't muster another equaliser. The win for Vitória sees them move above São Paulo in the standings.

Atlético-GO 0-1 Flamengo
The Rubro-Negro picked up an undeserved win at the Serra Dourada thanks to performances by men at both ends of the standard footballing lifespan. It was Dejan Petkovic who again proved the difference in attack, and who netter Flamengo's only goal from the penalty spot. But the real star was young (OK, he's actually 23, but cut me some slack) goalkeeper Marcelo Lomba, who pulled off some fine saves to keep the Dragão at bay.

The first half was a timid affair, with both teams seemingly content to remain at arm's length. There was, however, one exception. Diego Maurício spent the opening period tearing around the pitch, displaying the work ethic of a man desperate to earn a more permanent role in the team. It was he who, after half an hour, burst into the box, and was felled by Gilson. The referee correctly awarded a spot-kick, which Petkovic dispatched into the corner.

'Pet' salutes the Fla fans.

The home side came to life in the second period, particularly after the introduction of Juninho and Anaílson. The pair combined to good effect down the left, and it took some dogged Flamengo defending to prevent an equaliser. Ronaldo Angleim and Welinton received protection not only from the ever energetic Willians, but from débutant Correa, who put in an assured shift in midfield. It was a fortuitous but priceless win for Flamengo, who, despite their troubles both on and off the pitch, find themselves in fourth place.

Gameweek 9 Round-up
Vasco picked up only their second win of the season, beating fellow relegation scrappers Atlético Paranaense 3-1 at the São Januário. Strikers Jonathan and Nunes both netted their first goals for the club; the former with a shot that slipped through the hands of Neto in the Furacão goal, and the latter with a penalty after Jonathan was brought down in the box. Bruno Mineiro pulled one back before half time for nine-man Atlético, but Léo Gago wrapped things up around the hour mark with a low drive from distance.

Corinthians pulled away at the top of the table with a 1-0 win against Atlético-MG, as Ceará lost to Inter. Bruno César netted the Timão's only goal with a deflected effort. Inter turned in a good performance at the Beira-Rio, and took the lead through an Alecsandro penalty after Giuliano tumbled (dived) in the area. Kléber added a second after good work by Andrés d'Alessandro, before a Pato Abbondanzieri howler gifter Michel a consolation.

Young forward Alan was again decisive for Fluminense.

Fluminense move up to second following a tight 1-0 win against stuttering Santos at the Vila Belmiro. After withstanding long periods of pressure, the Tricolor netted on the break when supersub Alan drilled home after receiving Mariano's visionary pass. Cruzeiro too picked up a 1-0 victory, at home to lowly Goiás. Playmaker Gilberto bagged the goal, finishing with aplomb after a one-two with Wellington Paulista.

Botafogo endured their sixth consecutive game without a win, this time drawing 1-1 with Guarani. A superb break-away attack from the Bugre saw Mazola leave Botafogo defender Danny Morais for dead before squaring for Ricardo Xavier to open the scoring. The Glorioso defender made amends just before half time, however, rising to powerfully head Lúcio Flávio's corner past Douglas. The Rio side now sit 15th in the table, just one point above a group that includes Grêmio, who lost away to partial namesakes Grêmio Prudente. Paulo César grabbed the first with a free kick (aided by a defensive wall which parted like the Red Sea), before Wanderley added another on the break in the final seconds.

At the Ressacada, in-form Avaí ensured that Luiz Felipe Scolari's honeymoon period with Palmeiras was short lived, inflicting a 4-2 defeat on the Verdão. It was the visitors who took the lead through Gabriel Silva, but two lovely Avaí goals put them in the driving seat at half time. Caio got the first with a lovely left-footed drive, before Robinho (not that one) finished off an incisive passing move. In the second period, Kléber levelled things with a penalty (which he'd dived theatrically to earn), but the Leão da Ilha were not to be denied. Caio bagged his second after seeing his own penalty saved by Deola, before Roberto ran clear, calmly evaded the Palmeiras keeper and steered his shot into the empty net.

(Photo credits; (1) Romildo de Jesus/Lancepress, (2) Carlos Costa, (3) Ivan Storti.)

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