Cruzeiro 1-0 FluminenseIn a league with so many managerial changes, there seems to be a classic "coach comes back to haunt his former employers" story on an almost weekly basis. So it was on Sunday at the Parque do Sabiá, when Cuca, sacked as Flu coach earlier this year, led Cruzeiro to a victory that saw them leapfrog the Tricolor into first place in Série A. The Belo Horizonte side have been in scintillating form of late (they have now won ten of their last fourteen games), largely due to the revitalising arrival of Cuca and some smart signings including the Argentine playmaker Walter Montillo.
The No.10 lined up in his familiar role behind strikers Thiago Ribeiro and Wellington Paulista; the former a pacy player who drifts wide, and the latter a more pure finisher. Behind the attacking trio, the Raposa employ a rather prosaic system; plenty of midfield protection for the defence has been the key to the league's meanest defence. Muricy Ramalho again had to make do without star striker Fred, who limped off the pitch in last week's game against Santos. With Emerson also out, he again turned to Rodriguinho to provide the foil for Washington up front. Thiaguinho filled in at right-back for Mariano, who is on seleção duty.Fluminense had the better of the early chances; Conca testing Fábio, and Washington twice failing to properly connect with tempting crosses. Cruzeiro, however, would only need one opportunity. Montillo, unusually subdued for much of the tie, produced a moment of class, chipping a glorious cross into the path of Wellington Paulista. The forward still had plenty to do, but stretched to arc a subtle header past Rafael in the Flu goal. The Rio giants almost replied before the interval, but Rodriguinho blazed over.
Both sides lost some impetus when Deco and Montillo limped off injured, but Cruzeiro continued to create chances in the second period. The lively Wellington Paulista was denied a second initially by the woodwork, and then by a tight offside decision. Solid throughout, Cuca's men would allow Flu only one real chance before the final whistle; it fell to Rodriguinho, who again skied his shot when it looked easier to score. Joy for Cruzeiro, while Muricy Ramalho has some thinking to do.
Gameweek 29 Round-upAtlético Paranaense continue to struggle after the departure of Paulo César Carpegiani, losing 2-0 to Santos. Substitute Maranhão put the Peixe with a low drive, before Neymar was brought down in the area. The youngster, who also assisted the first, finally showed a sign of growing maturity, allowing the in-form Zé Éduardo to stroke home the spot kick. The win allowed Santos to leapfrog Botafogo, who could only draw 0-0 with Palmeiras. The game was not without incident, however; 'Loco' Abreu missed a penalty for O Glorioso, and Kléber was sent off for lashing out at Alessandro.
Grêmio's in-form striker Jonas (centre) celebrates with partner André Lima.
Grêmio's fine form looked to be ending at the São Januário, but a fine comeback allowed them to rescue a point against Vasco da Gama. The home side went ahead early on when Éder Luís beat the offside trap and slotted home, but Jonas replied for Grêmio with a delightful long range strike. Cesinha's header and a deflected Felipe Bastos free-kick put Vasco in command, but they were pegged back by another sensational strike from Jonas. The striker sylishly tucked home his 19th goal in the Brasileirão (and his 40th in 2010) after a one-two with André Lima. With time running out, Gabriel swung his left foot at a loose ball, and watched in joy as it beat Fernando Prass at his near post. Frustration for Vasco, joy for the Tricolor.
Ceará comfortably saw off Guarani at the Castelão thanks to first half goals from Geraldo and Boiadeiro. The former (a veteran midfielder) just stretched enough to poke the Vovô ahead (although he may not be able to walk in the morning), before the latter floated a fine free-kick into the top corner of Douglas' net. Vanderlei Luxemburgo's Flamengo appeared to have done enough for a second consecutive win against Avaí at the Ressacada; Val Baiano netted a brace of close-range finishes to give the Rubro-Negro a 2-0 lead at the break. The Leão da Ilha reacted magnificently, however, reducing the arrears through Emerson's header, before levelling when Roberto glanced home a corner.
Corinthians have been a relatively stable club since their return to Série A, and that looked to have continued with the reign of Adílson Batista. When the 42 year-old assumed his coaching post in July in the wake of Mano Menezes' step up to the seleção, he represented an almost seamless transition into a new regime; keeping faith with the players and tactics that had served his predecessor so well, and maintaining the side among the top two. Things change quickly in Brazilian football, however, and after the Timão's loss to Atlético-GO (their fifth straight game without a win) Batista was shown the door. Things started well for Corinthians when Leandro Castán's instinctive finish put them ahead within two minutes, but what followed showed a frailty that has not frequently been present in recent times. Juninho's scrambled effort brought Atlético level, before Gilson found himself in acres of space to put the Dragão in front. Marcão coolly added a third, provoking the home fans to boo their own players into the dressing room. Marcão repeated the trick after the break, drilling home to put the Atlético fans in dreamland. The dye was cast well before William Morais and Thiago Heleno found the net late on for the hosts; Corinthians were down to third, and will be looking for their third coach of the campaign.
(Photo credits; (1) Beto Oliveira, (2) Paulo Sergio, (3) Eduardo Viana.)