The action in the Campeonato Brasileiro continued to flow thick and fast over the weekend (God, why did I choose to cover a league that insists on such a relentless schedule?!), with nine matches taking place. Round 21 was a good one for São Paulo, whose victory over Figueirense allowed them to snatch second place from Vasco da Gama. The game of the week, however, undoubtedly took place at the Raulino de Oliveira...
Fluminense 3-2 Atlético Goianiense
Let's not beat about the bush; for 80 minutes on Saturday, Flu were abysmal. Not just below par, but truly can't-string-three-passes-together awful. Manuel Lanzini, the Argentine playmaker signed on loan from River Plate to replace the departed Darío Conca, had a couple of nice touches early on, but was soon dragged into the Sunday-league midfield minefield. Up front, meanwhile, Ciro did a passable impression of the invisible man. Atlético, who have been in decent form of late, took a deserved lead when Bida blasted home a free-kick from an improbable angle.
Things got worse after the interval. Rafael 'He-Man' Moura - who has all the finesse of a chest of drawers - blasted a penalty into orbit, before Dragão 'keeper (oh, the joys of the goalscoring goalie) Márcio showed him how it was done at the other end. Game over, as I claimed on Twitter.
Unfortunately, I was to be left with egg on my face; Fluminense produced an astonishing comeback, grabbing three goals in eight breathless minutes. Rafael Sóbis was the catalyst, coming off the bench (oh Abel Braga, why was he even on the bench?) to net a quickfire brace. His first, a 20-yard curler with his left foot, was followed by a simple tap-in after Márcio had fumbled a shot. The Tricolor weren't done there, however. With injury time approaching, Rafael Moura nodded home a Marquinho free-kick to delight the home fans. Fluminense may not be title contenders this term, but they remain deserving of their nickname - Time de Guerreiros (team of warriors).
Brasileirão Gameweek 21 Round-up
São Paulo clawed their way back into second place in the standings, beating Figueirense 2-1 at the Orlando Scarpelli. Rivaldo rolled back the years once more, showing great composure to score the Tricolor's winner. Vasco da Gama drop to third, following a surprise defeat at the hands of Brasileirão lanterna América Mineiro. The Coelho were rampant on Sunday afternoon, chalking up four goals - including a lovely swerving effort from André Dias - against a shell-shocked Vasco defence. Atlético Paranaense were also on the wrong end of a goleada; Grêmio produced some scintillating attacking play to record 4-0 win in Porto Alegre.
Despite remaining entrenched in the relegation zone, Atlético Mineiro are finally showing signs of life. The Galo eased to victory over Avaí on Saturday, and now sit just two points behind Santos in the table. The latter's match against Botafogo, incidentally, was postponed. At the Engenhão, Bahia produced a spirited display to condemn Flamengo to a second consecutive loss. One-time Manchester United target Dodô scored the goal of the game, powering in from the left and blasting past Felipe. Corinthians also tasted defeat on Sunday, succumbing to Coritiba in the city of Curitiba (yes, I know... and no, I don't know why). Finally, both Palmeiras vs. Cruzeiro and Ceará vs. Internacional finished 1-1.
Série A results; Fluminense 3-2 Atlético-GO, Atlético-MG 2-0 Avaí, Figueirense 1-2 São Paulo, Palmeiras 1-1 Cruzeiro, Flamengo 1-3 Bahia, Grêmio 4-0 Atlético-PR, Coritiba 1-0 Corinthians, América-MG 4-1 Vasco, Ceará 1-1 Internacional.
(Photo credits; (1) Gilvan de Souza, (2) Gil Leonardi.)