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Monday, 26 July 2010

Timão Send Mano Off With a Win; Galo Hold Avaí

Mano Menezes was given an emotional send-off at the Pacaembu, watching his team beat Guarani to reclaim the leadership of the Brasileirão. Elsewhere, Atlético-MG scrapped to a point against in-form Avaí, and Fluminense were held by Botafogo in the clássico Carioca.

Corinthians 3-1 Guarani
A comfortable win for Corinthians was a fitting end to Mano Menezes' impressive spell with the São Paulo giants. After dragging the club from the depths of Série B, he leaves with the Timão sitting pretty at the top of the Brazilian league system, with plenty to be hopeful about; not least the future of Bruno César, who was the architect of this win, and who has rapidly developed into one of the league's best players.

The Corinthians players evidently got hold of their scripts early; within the first min, the home side went ahead. Bruno César's corner was flicked on at the near post by captain William, and Jorge Henrique, one of the most consistent performers during Menezes' reign, gleefully headed home. If the crowd were hoping for a goalfest, however, they were to be disappointed; the Timão drifted through the rest of the opening period, and looked set to drop two points when Guarani levelled in the second. Mazola held off a half-hearted Roberto Carlos challenge before slotting sweetly past Júlio César in the Corinthians goal.

Menezes takes up his place on the Pacaembu bench for the final time.

The last word(s), however, would go to Bruno César. With ten minutes remaining, the playmaker restored the jovial atmosphere in the stadium, hitting a fabulous free-kick that gave Bugre 'keeper Douglas no chance. Two quickly became three; Roberto Carlos drifted down the left, before supplying a dangerous cross that Bruno César headed home at the far post. At the final whistle, Menezes was lifted aloft by his squad, and widely cheered by the home crowd; it was a touching farewell to a man who has won over all of his doubters in recent months.

Avaí 0-0 Atlético-MG
A brief scan of Atlético Mineiro's squad makes you wonder how on earth they could be in the relegation zone after eleven games. A side that boasts Diego Tardelli, Diego Souza, Daniel Carvalho, and Ricardinho really ought to be in the upper reaches of the Campeonato Brasileiro, rather than engaged in a relegation scrap. For one reason or another, though, Vanderlei Luxemburgo's men went into Saturday's game at the Ressacada having won just 3 points in the previous 8 games. A 0-0 draw, then, may turn out to be a good result for the Galo, especially given the nature of the game.

I can summarise the game in one question; "how did Avaí not win this?!" The home side were dominant in the first half, and created countless opportunities. With the skilful duo of Caio and Robinho behind striker Roberto, the Leão da Ilha attacked with great menace were only let down by some shoddy finishing. Robinho and Caio both went close, but the chief culprit was left-back Eltinho, who contrived to drill wide from 4 yards with the goal at his mercy. Atlético almost made them pay when Diego Souza brought a fine save from Renan.

The second period was more balanced, but Avaí will feel they should have profitted from some indiscipline which left the Galo with only nine players at the final whistle. Daniel Carvalho was dismissed for a lunging challenge on Caio; a correct decisions despite the protests from the former CSKA Moscow man. Substitute Neto Berola also saw red in the dying minutes, but this time the decision was a harsh one; the striker's challenge on Marcos was more clumsy than aggressive. Atlético, though, held on for a point, and their first clean sheet of the season.

Gameweek 11 Round-up
Vasco stormed out of the bottom four on Saturday evening with a 2-0 win over Atlético-GO. Nilton opened the scoring for the São Januário team with a thumping effort from distance, before Fumagalli smashed in a second after the break. Fernando Prass saved Robston's penalty late on to secure all three points for the Gigante. Saturday's other game saw Grêmio Prudente draw 0-0 with Vitória.

Fumagalli (right) soaks up the applause after his goal.

With Muricy Ramalho still at the helm, and with Juliano Belletti and Emerson making their debuts, Fluminense looked a good bet to beat Botafogo in Sunday's Clássico Vovô. The Alvinegro, though, had other ideas, and claimed a point in a heated game at the Engenhão. Emerson gave Flu the lead, running onto Fred's pass after Jefferson failed to clear his lines with a goal-kick. Botafogo equalised thanks to Edno's header, and the game finished with 19 men after Somália, Danny Morais, and Thiaguinho saw red. A rocket from striker Taison condemned Flamengo to a 1-0 loss to Internacional at the Beria-Rio. Despite resting players in anticipation of Wednesday's Libertadores semi-final against São Paulo, the Colorado were too strong for Fla, and maintain their place in the top four.

São Paulo warmed up for that semi-final in less than ideal fashion, falling to a third straight loss against Santos. With players from both sides rested (Santos play the first leg of the Copa do Brasil final on Wednesday), it took an own-goal by Tricolor defender Renato Silva to separate the sides. Fellow São Paulo heavyweights Palmeiras travelled to the North of Brazil to face Ceará, and came home with a point following a goalless draw.

Despite being second best for much of the game, Cruzeiro twice came from behind to draw 2-2 with Grêmio at the Arena do Jacaré. The team from Porto Alegre took the lead through Borges' header, and later grabbed a second thanks to Jonas' wicked free-kick. The Raposa, though, levelled on each occasion thanks to a brace of headers from big centre-back Henrique. Atlético Paranaense move up to midtable after picking up their second consecutive win, against Goiás at the Serra Dourada. Manoel headed the Furacão ahead on the half-hour mark, before Maikon Leite sealed the victory with a low drive in the second half.

(Photo credits; (1) Joel Silva/Folhapress, (2) Bruno de Lima.)

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