Firstly, an apology. Due to travel commitments this week, this entry and the next few will be rather shorter than usual, and may not be as prompt as I'd like (depending on how much internet access I have in São Paulo). Normal service will be resumed shortly.
Gameweek 17 Round-up
Vasco's unbeaten run continued on Saturday, as the Gigante da Colina earnt a point against Cruzeiro at the São Januário. Zé Roberto put Vasco ahead with a stunning long-range effort, before Fernando turned into his own net to equalise on the stroke of half time. Botafogo saw their sequence of five wins brought to an end by Internacional, who picked up a 1-0 win at the Beira-Rio. Youngster Leandro Damião again got his name on the scoresheet, flicking Rafael Sobis' cross past Jefferson in the Fogão goal.
Despite yet another missed penalty from Neymar, Santos claimed a comfortable 2-0 win at home to Goiás. Zé Éduardo, in fine form of late, scored a fabulous overhead kick, before Alan Patrick's low drive sealed the points. In Saturday's final match, Grêmio Prudente picked up a valuable draw against Ceará in Fortaleza. Washington's header put the home side into an early lead, but a brace from Prudente striker Wesley put the Abelha in the driving seat. Careca's late header, however, secured a point for Ceará.
Flamengo's woes continued on Sunday, as they imploded in the final minutes against Guarani. Jean's goal looked to have won it for the Rubro-Negro, but Geovane's close-range flick and a deflected Reinaldo effort (both in injury time) gave Guarani all three points. Flamengo fans are rapidly losing patience with their misfiring attack, particularly Val Baiano, who sliced wide in the second period with the goal at his mercy. The loss meant that Fla were overtaken in the Brasileirão by Atlético Paranaense, who drew 1-1 with Grêmio at the Baixada. Maikon Leite put the Furacão ahead with a pacy dart and finish, but Vílson's header ensured the spoils were shared.
Corinthians battled to a 2-1 win over Vitória at the Pacaembu, a match enlivened by the return of Ronaldo Fenômeno after a lengthy absence due to fitness troubles. The seleção icon, despite understandably lacking the sharpness of old, showed enough neat touches to suggest that his career hasn't petered out quite yet. It would be two other veterans, however, who would combine for the opening goal. Roberto Carlos launched a searching ball from the halfway line, which pint-sized forward Iarley headed sensationally over Viáfara in the visitors' goal and into the net. Paulinho doubled the Timão's advantage, pouncing on a loose ball after good work from Alessandro and Elias. Kléber Pereira pulled one back with a late header, but Corinthians held on for a victory which sees them move within three points of top spot.
Corinthians will be thankful to bitter rivals São Paulo, who held leaders Fluminense to a 2-2 draw at the Maracanã. After just eight minutes, Darío Conca and Júlio César combined down the left, and the latter crossed for Deco to put the Rio side ahead. São Paulo grew into the game, and went close with efforts from Richarlyson and Jean, before levelling thanks to a free-kick from Rogério Ceni, their goleiro artilheiro. Just a minute later, São Paulo took the lead; Flu 'keeper Fernando Henrique misjudged a long ball, allowing Fernandão to head home at the far post. The second period saw the home side lay siege to the São Paulo goal. Despite Rogério's best efforts, the equaliser arrived on the hour; Leandro Euzébio heading home Conca's free-kick. The drama was not yet over though; Fluminense were awarded a penalty which Washington (who started the campaign with São Paulo) decided to take. The burly forward saw his penalty saved, however, by the heroic Rogério.
Palmeiras recovered from their atrocious performance last week to beat struggling Atlético Mineiro at the Ipatingão. Neto Berola put the Galo 1-0 up with a deft finish, but some laughable handling by Fábio Costa (not the first instance of this recently) allowed Marcos Assunção to level. Kléber's near post finish completed the comeback. Atlético Goianiense looked to have claimed a second consecutive win, but a late Vandinho goal earnt Avaí a point at the Serra Dourada. It was Vandinho, indeed, who opened the scoring, finishing coolly following a glorious pass from Jefferson. The Dragão reacted, however, with two brilliant goals from Elias, who has now netted no fewer than five goals in their last two games. Only Vandinho's opportunism denied them the three points; the striker was on hand to tap home after some poor defending.
(Photo credits; (1) Ricardo Noguiera/Folhapress, (2) Eduardo Knapp/Folhapress.)