Stoppage Time – International Football Blog

Brazil: Fluminense and Santos amongst many to defend state titles

Posted in South America Football by peterbein on January 12, 2013

It’s that time of the year again when local pride is at stake in the numerous state championships which are prevalent in the opening months of the Brazilian football calendar. From Amapá in the far north to Rio Grande do Sul in the south, from Acre in the west to Paraíba in the far east of the country, twenty seven regions of Brazil will be involved in their own local championship, mixing the big boys with the smaller village teams, with each club hoping to win their respective title and qualify for a place in next year’s edition of the national cup, the Copa Brasil.

The Rio State championship, more popularly known as Carioca, will begin next weekend with the first of the two component tournaments which make up the competition. The first of these is the Taça Guanabara (from 19th January – 10th March) which sees sixteen teams split into two groups. Each club will play the eight teams in the opposite group only once, culminating in a straight knockout between the top two of each group comprising of single leg semi-finals and final. Almost as soon as the action in the Taça Guanabara is finished the second half begins with the Taça Rio (16th March – 5th May). Each team will, in this competition, play the other seven teams in its own group once only with the top two in each group going through to a knockout stage just like in the Guanabara. If the same team wins both competitions then they are instantly crowned Carioca champions for the year. If the Guanabara and the Rio competitions see different winners then they will face off in a two-legged final to decide the overall champion of Rio State on May 12th and 19th. In 2012 Fluminense claimed the Guanabara title whilst Botafogo were victorious in the Rio Cup, thus both clubs met in an overall title decider which was won by Fluminense 5-2 on aggregate. “Flu” therefore took the Carioca title for the 31st time, leaving them just one behind old rivals Flamengo, and went on to enjoy national glory in the Campeonato Brasiliero later that year to complete a remarkable double.

WATCH 2012 CARIOCA FINAL, 2ND LEG HIGHLIGHTS HERE:

The other major state championship in Brazil is in São Paulo state, known as the Paulista. The duration of this tournament is the same as the Carioca beginning on January 19th and running until May 19th. The format of this competition is rather more straightforward than its Rio counterpart with a twenty team league, each team playing the rest once only. After 19 rounds of games the top eight go through to the knockout stages with the quarter-final and semi-final rounds played over one leg followed by a two-legged final. In the 2012 competition Santos finished in third place in the regular season table but managed to win their way through each of the knock-out rounds to take their 20th Paulista title, their third consecutive success at state level, by getting the better of Guarani in the final with a 7-2 aggregate victory.

WATCH 2012 PAULISTA FINAL, 2ND LEG HIGHLIGHTS:

There are some other notable state championships outside of the big two but many of these will contain an outstanding rivalry which has been the focus for many a tournament over the years. In the Mineiro championship, played in the state of Minas Gerais, Belo Horizonte giants Atlético Mineiro and Cruzeiro have won 77 of the 95 tournaments that have been played to date and their dominance is expected to continue this year. Atlético sealed their 41st title success last year with a 4-1 aggregate win over América in the final. Similarly, the Gaúcho championship will no doubt see the Porto Alegre rivalry between Grêmio and Internacional light up the campaign. Internacional will be hoping to reclaim the title they’ve won for the last two years, in 2012 courtesy of a 3-2 aggregate over Caxias in the final, but arch-rivals Grêmio are expected to put up a fight this time around. There’s more than just local bragging rights at stake for two clubs who have won all but two Gaúcho championships that have been played since 1954.

The Campeonato Paranaense was won in 2012 by Coritiba FC for the fourth time in five years as they faced off against eternal foes Atlético Paranaense in the final. Coritiba won out the penalty shoot-out which followed the second leg following an aggregate tie of 2-2 to claim the club’s 36th state title. It was back to business as usual in the Campeonato Baiano in 2012 as the big two of EC Vitória and EC Bahia fought out a tense final. Following Bahia de Feira’s shock maiden title win in 2011, the big two took it upon themselves to re-establish the old order in 2012 by reaching the final. Ultimately it was EC Bahia who emerged triumphant as they won the Baiano for the 44th time; the two-legged final against EC Vitória ended in a 3-3 aggregate draw but, due to the rules of the competition, Bahia’s superior record in the regular season won them the championship.

At this time of year we usually mention the Potiguar championship, held in the Rio Grande do Norte region, because of the dominance of ABC FC. The record champions at state level, ABC FC have won their local championship 52 times but they were unable to add to this total last year. América de Natal won their first Potiguar for nine years in 2012 by defeating ABC FC 4-1 in the final to claim their 34th overall win. Both of last year’s Potiguar finalists will sit it out during the first phase of this year’s championship, having a bye until the competition reaches its second phase in March.

WATCH 2012 POTIGUAR FINAL, 2ND LEG HIGHLIGHTS HERE:

Brazil set to defend U-20 title in South America

Posted in International Football, South America Football by peterbein on January 9, 2013

Brazil celebrate winning the 2011 South American U-20 title

The 2013 South American Youth Championship begins today in Argentina in a tournament which will help determine the four nations who will progress to the FIFA Under-20 World Cup later this year.

Eleven times winners Brazil are the defending champions having won the tournament two years ago with a squad which included the likes of Santos superstar Neymar, who finished the 2011 competition as top scorer with nine goals, and Lucas Moura who recently made headlines for signing for Paris Saint Germain for a club record €45m. The champions kick off the defence of their title with a match against Ecuador on Thursday evening in Group B, a group which also contains Peru, 2011 runners-up Uruguay and Venezuela.

Hosts Argentina will begin their tournament with a game against Chile and will hope to make a good start in their quest to improve on their third place finish in 2011. Argentina’s other Group A opponents come in the form of Bolivia, Colombia and Paraguay. There are three places up for grabs in each group before the tournament concludes with a six-team group in which each team plays each other once, the conclusion of this phase will determine the South American youth champions and the three other finalists for the FIFA event which will be held in Turkey in June.

The tournament takes place until February 3rd and will be played in two host cities, Mendoza and San Juan, both of which lie in the west of the country.

Messi helps Argentina see off Brazil in seven goal thriller

Posted in International Football, South America Football by peterbein on June 10, 2012

The UEFA European Championships have started in earnest but on the other side of the Atlantic there was only one match that mattered this weekend. The two giants of South American football, Argentina and Brazil, met in a friendly match in New Jersey and thrilled the capacity crowd of 80,000 with seven goals and some stunning football.

The game was a topsy-turvy affair with both teams taking turns to hold on to the lead. Brazil went 1-0 up in the 23rd minute through Vasco da Gama midfielder Romulo only for Lionel Messi to turn the game on its head by the 37th minute with two expertly taken goals. The Brazilians hit back after half-time with Internacional midfielder Oscar and Chelsea transfer target Hulk giving the Seleção a 3-2 lead with a little under a twenty minutes of the match remaining. That, however, was still enough for Federico Fernández to restore parity in the 78th minute before the irreplaceable Messi stunned the crowd with a beautifully struck goal with five minutes remaining to give the Albiceleste the win in an entertaining game.

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Brazil: Easy as ABC as State Championships set for kick off (video)

Posted in South America Football by peterbein on January 13, 2012

It’s that time of the year again when local pride is at stake in the numerous state championships which are prevalent in the opening months of the Brazilian football calendar. From Amapá in the far north to Rio Grande do Sul in the south, from Acre in the west to Paraíba in the far east of the country, twenty seven regions of Brazil will be involved in their own local championship, mixing the big boys with the smaller village teams, with each club hoping to win their respective title and qualify for a place in next year’s edition of the national cup, Copa Brazil.

The Rio State championship, more popularly known as Carioca, will begin next weekend with the first of the two component tournaments which make up the competition. The first of these is the Taça Guanabara (from 21st January – 26th February) which sees sixteen teams split into two groups. Each team plays the other seven teams in its own group once only with the top two in each group going through to a knockout round comprising of one leg semi-finals and final. Almost as soon as the action in the Taça Guanabara is finished the second half begins with the Taça Rio (29th February – 22nd April). Again the sixteen teams are split into two groups of eight but this time each club will play each of the eight teams in the opposite group once only. After eight games in the league phase there is another knockout phase involving the top two of each group using the same format as the Guanabara. If the same team wins both competitions then they are crowned Carioca champions. If the Guanabara and the Rio competitions see different winners then they will face off in a two-legged final to decide the overall champion of Rio State. In 2011 Flamengo won both competitions and took the overall Carioca title for a record extending 32nd time. This time around the likes of 30-times winners Fluminense, Botafogo and Vasco da Gama will hope to reclaim the title from the Mengão.

The other major state championship in Brazil is in São Paulo state, known to all and sundry as the Paulista. The duration of this tournament is longer than the Carioca beginning on January 21st and running until the May 13th. The format of this competition is rather more straightforward than its Rio counterpart with a twenty team league, each team playing the rest once only. After 19 rounds of games the top eight go through to the knockout rounds with the quarter-final and semi-final stages played over one leg followed by a two-legged final. In the 2011 competition Santos finished in fourth place in the regular season table but managed to win their way through each of the knock-out rounds to take their 19th Paulista title by getting the better of arch rivals Corinthians in the final. Following a goalless first leg Santos won the return fixture 2-1 at home and claimed the first of two major titles in that year with the club also going on to lift the Copa Libertadores. In 2011 the likes of record Paulista champions Corinthians, São Paulo and Palmeiras will be determined to add to the honours board.

There are some other notable state championships outside of the big two but many of these will contain an outstanding rivalry which has been the focus for many a tournament over the years. In the Mineiro championship, played in the state of Minas Gerais, Atlético Mineiro and Cruzeiro have won 77 of the 95 tournaments that have been played to date (Atlético hold a narrow 40-37 advantage) and their dominance is expected to continue this year. Cruzeiro defeated Atlético with a 3-2 aggregate win in last year’s final helping them to the title. The Gaúcho championship will no doubt see the Porto Alegre rivalry between Grêmio (36 titles) and Internacional (40 titles) light up the campaign with Inter hoping to reclaim the title they won over their arch rivals in last year’s competition. There’s more than just local bragging rights at stake for two clubs who have won all but two championships that have been played since 1954. The Campeonato Paranaense was won in 2011 by Coritiba FC for the third time in four years as they won both league rounds of the regular season, therefore making an end-of-season play-off match unnecessary. There was, however, one major surprise in the Campeonato Baiano as neither of the big two of EC Vitória or EC Bahia, winners of this tournament 69 times between them, could win the trophy leaving it up to Bahia de Feira to sample title success for the first time in the club’s history.

ABC FC, who hail from the city of Natal in Rio Grande do Norte state, are the most titled club at state championship level. The current Potiguar championship holders recorded their 52nd title triumph in 2011 having seen off the challenge of Santa Cruz with a 3-2 aggregate win in the final. Although they play in the second tier at national level, ABC FC carry on to dominate at regional level in a tournament which has been won by them five times in the last seven years. They will begin their 2012 campaign this weekend with an away fixture against Baraunas whilst the championships in the states of Pernambuco, neighbouring state Alagoas and Pará will also get under way over the next few days.

Brazil: Corinthians seal fifth title in tight Brasileiro finish (video)

Posted in South America Football by peterbein on December 4, 2011

The Brazilian national championship has made a habit of last day climaxes in recent years and this season’s competition is no exception. Corinthians (Played 38, Points 71) won their fifth Brasileiro tonight, their first league title since 2005, following a goalless draw against arch rivals Palmeiras. This came at the expense of Vasco da Gama who, needing all three points in the event of a slip up by Corinthians, were only able to draw 1-1 at home to Flamengo in another high profile derby match. On a day in which Brazilian football legend Socrates passed away, it was perhaps a fitting tribute to him that one of his old clubs should go on to win the title. Socrates served the São Paulo based club with distinction from 1978-84 in what was his most productive spell with any one club.

It was derby day in Brazil as the national federation had decided that the final round of matches should produce some thrilling drama on the last day and they weren’t disappointed. Although Corinthians’ match with Palmeiras remained goalless both teams were reduced to nine men as each side battled to get one over the other in a derby where there is no love lost and in which emotions certainly ran high with confrontations amongst the players commonplace throughout the game. Palmeiras thought they had ruined Corinthians’ title party by getting the draw but news came through of Vasco’s draw with Flamengo which prevented the former from overtaking Corinthians in the standings, the margin between the top two teams remaining at two points. Just to add a little spice to that encounter there were two red cards in that game as well, one for each side.

But it wasn’t just at the very top of the table where things were interesting. With places in next season’s Copa Libertadores and Copa Sudamericana to be sorted and relegation matters to be resolved at the bottom there were very few teams playing tonight for whom nothing mattered. Fluminense and Flamengo got the point they needed to secure Copa Libertadores placings for next season along with Internacional who, in the Porto Alegre derby, got the better of arch foes Grêmio by a 1-0 score line. Santos FC (2011 Copa Libertadores champions) and Vasco da Gama (2011 Copa Brasil winners) were already assured of their Libertadores places for next season before tonight’s games took place.

Copa Sudamericana places went to eight clubs – São Paulo, Figueirense, Coritiba, Botafogo, Palmeiras, Grêmio, Atletico Goianiense and EC Bahia – whilst four clubs were unfortunate to experience that sinking feeling as Avaí, América Mineiro, Ceará SC and Atlético Paranaense were relegated into Serie B next season. Cruzeiro of Belo Horizonte and Atlético Mineiro were lucky to stay in the top flight as they finished just two and four points above the relegation zone respectively.

CORINTHIANS v PALMEIRAS MATCH HIGHLIGHTS

Brazil: Legend Socrates dies in hospital

Posted in South America Football by peterbein on December 4, 2011

Socrates BrazilBrazilian football legend Socrates has died at the age of 57 it has been reported today.

The former Botafogo, São Paulo, Corinthians, Flamengo and Fiorentina player was taken to hospital on Friday with food poisoning and later died through an intestinal infection.

Socrates was perhaps best known amongst football followers for his performances with the Brazilian national team in the 1982 and 1986 FIFA World Cups and it is sad that he is one of few Brazilians superstar players never to win a major tournament with the Seleção. Nonetheless he was a distinctive creative midfielder who won 60 caps for his country and, in more recent times, had made a surprise one-off substitute appearance in 2004 with English Evo-Stik Northern Premier League (eighth-tier) team Garforth Town.

Stoppage Time wishes to pay its respects to a great footballer who has been cruelly taken away at a young age.

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FIFA: World Cup qualifying draws made in Brazil

Posted in International Football by peterbein on July 31, 2011

FIFA World Cup 2014 logoJust a little over a year after Spain won the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa, the draws for the qualifying rounds of the next FIFA World Cup have been made. Host nation Brazil invited stars past and present such as Ronaldo, Cafu and Neymar to conduct the draw along with FIFA General Secretary Jerome Valcke in Rio de Janeiro. There was no draw for South American qualifying as the nine countries who will compete in qualifying will face each other in a round-robin home-and-away fixture list. There were draws for each of the remaining five continents and Stoppage Time – International Football Blog lists each of the draw results below for your information.

AFRICA (Teams separated by a slash mark and in bold are to be decided)

GROUP A: South Africa, Botswana, Central African Republic, Somalia/Ethiopia
GROUP B: Tunisia, Cape Verde Islands, Sierra Leone, Equatorial Guinea/Madagascar
GROUP C: Ivory Coast, Morocco, Gambia, Chad/Tanzania 
GROUP  D: Ghana, Zambia, Sudan, Lesotho/Burundi 
GROUP E: Burkina Faso, Gabon, Niger, Sao Tome e Principe/Congo 
GROUP F: Nigeria, Malawi, Seychelles/Kenya, Djibouti/Namibia
GROUP G: Egypt, Guinea, Zimbabwe, Comoros/Mozambique
GROUP H: Algeria, Mali, Benin, Eritrea/Rwanda
GROUP I: Cameroon, Libya, Guinea-Bissau/Togo, Swaziland/Congo DR 
GROUP J: Senegal, Uganda, Angola, Mauritius or Liberia 

Japan Asia Cup 2011

Asian champions Japan face Uzbekistan, Syria and North Korea

ASIA

GROUP A: China, Jordan, Iraq, Singapore
GROUP B: Korea Republic, Kuwait, UAE, Lebanon
GROUP C: Japan, Uzbekistan, Syria, Korea DPR
GROUP D: Australia, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Thailand
GROUP E: Iran, Qatar, Bahrain, Indonesia

EUROPE

GROUP A: Croatia, Serbia, Belgium, Scotland, Macedonia, Wales
GROUP B: Italy, Denmark, Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Armenia, Malta.
GROUP C: Germany, Sweden, Republic of Ireland, Austria, Faroe Islands, Kazakhstan.
GROUP D: Netherlands, Turkey, Hungary, Romania, Estonia, Andorra.
GROUP E: Norway, Slovenia, Switzerland, Albania, Cyprus, Iceland.
GROUP F: Portugal, Russia, Israel, Northern Ireland, Azerbaijan, Luxembourg
GROUP G: Greece, Slovakia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Lithuania, Latvia, Liechtenstein
GROUP H: England, Montenegro, Ukraine, Poland, Moldova, San Marino
GROUP I: Spain, France, Belarus, Georgia, Finland

NORTH AND CENTRAL AMERICA (Round 2)

GROUP A: El Salvador, Surinam, Cayman Islands, Dominican Republic
GROUP B: Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, Barbados, Bermuda
GROUP C: Panama, Dominica, Nicaragua, Bahamas
GROUP D: Canada, St. Kitts and Nevis, Puerto Rico, St Lucia
GROUP E: Grenada, Guatemala, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Belize
GROUP F: Haiti, Antigua & Barbuda, Curaçao, US Virgin Islands

Mexico Gold Cup 2011

Mexico will be the favourites to qualify from North and Central America

NORTH AND CENTRAL AMERICA (Round 3)

Group A: USA, Jamaica, Group E winner, Group F winner
Group B: Mexico, Costa Rica, Group A winner, Group B winner
Group C: Honduras, Cuba, Group D winner, Group C winner

OCEANIA (Teams separated by a slash in bold to be decided)

GROUP A: Vanuatu, New Caledonia, American Samoa/Cook Islands/Samoa/Tonga/Tahiti 
GROUP B: Fiji, New Zealand, Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea

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Brazil: Thanks for the memories, Ronaldo (+video)

Posted in International Football, South America Football by peterbein on June 9, 2011

Ronaldo's last game for BrazilAnd so the career of Ronaldo Luís Nazário de Lima, or just plain old “Ronaldo” to the rest of us, was officially recognised in Tuesday night’s Brazil versus Romania international in which the great man was allowed to play 15 minutes before saying a fond farewell to the thousands of fans who’d come to see him play in São Paulo.

The game finished 1-0 with Fred scoring the only goal of the game after 21 minutes but that didn’t really matter on a night in which the world of football said goodbye to a great player who will forever be known for the goals he scored in the famous yellow shirt of Brazil. In his illustrious career Ronaldo won the FIFA World Cup in 1994 and 2002, scoring both goals against Germany in the final of the latter tournament, as well as the Copa America (twice), the FIFA Confederations Cup and a host of honours at club level including two league championships at Real Madrid, a UEFA Cup with Inter (1998) and the Cup Winners’ Cup with FC Barcelona (1997) although the one glaring omission from his CV is the UEFA Champions League which, sadly, leaves his trophy cabinet incomplete.

More recently he plied his trade with Brazilian club Corinthians with whom he won the Campeonato Paulista (São Paulo state championship) and the Copa Brasil in the 2009 season before hanging up his boots in February this year. His goal tally stands with the greatest of strikers: 352 goals in 517 matches throughout his club career whilst for Brazil is an even more impressive 62 goals in 98 matches including 15 in FIFA World Cup tournament finals (still a record). Putting it simply, Ronaldo is a legend.

WATCH RONALDO’S FINAL MOMENTS AS A BRAZIL PLAYER HERE:

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Brazil: Local pride at stake in state championships

Posted in South America Football by peterbein on January 14, 2011
Botafogo Carioca

Botafogo are the defending Carioca champions

As controversial as they are a regular feature of the Brazilian football calendar, the state championships are back in the next couple of weeks. Though derided as an unnecessary burden on teams and players alike it seems that these championships are going to remain for a long time as they are part of the country’s football tradition. The state championships are a throwback to the days when there was no national championship and it is surprising that they still remain forty years after the creation of the Brasileiro. Nonetheless the tournaments can still attract good crowds at the business end of the championships even if the teams are playing for merely local pride rather than Copa Libertadores or Sudamericana qualification. Stoppage Time – International Football Blog previews some of the bigger state championships ahead of the big kick-off in the coming weeks.

The Rio State championship, more popularly known as Carioca, begins this weekend with the first two inner tournaments which make up the competition. The first of these tournaments is the Taça Guanabara (from 19th January – 27th February) which sees sixteen teams split into two groups. Each team plays the other seven teams in its own group once only with the top two in each group going through to a knockout round comprising of one leg semi-finals and final. Almost as soon as the action in the Taça Guanabara is finished the second half begins with the Taça Rio (4th March – 1st May). Again the sixteen teams are split into two groups of eight but this time each team will play each of the eight teams in their opposite group once only. After eight games in the league phase there is another knockout phase involving the top two of each group using the same format as the Guanabara. If the same team wins both competitions then they are crowned Carioca champions. If the Guanabara and the Rio competitions see different winners then they will face off in a two-legged final to decide the overall champion of Rio State. In 2010 Botafogo won both competitions and took the Carioca championship for the 19th time in the club’s history. This time around the likes of record Carioca winners Flamengo, Brasileiro champions Fluminense and Vasco da Gama will fancy their chances of winning the title.

Santos Paulista

Santos are the defending Paulista champions

The other major state championship in Brazil is in São Paulo state known to all and sundry as the Paulista. This duration of this tournament is slightly longer than the Carioca beginning on January 16th and running until the May 15th. The format of this competition is rather more straightforward than its Rio counterpart with a twenty team league, each team playing the rest once only. After 19 games the top four go through to the two-legged semi-finals followed by a two-legged final. In the 2010 competition Santos finished top of the regular season table and negotiated their way through the knock-out rounds to take their 18th Paulista title but only after little Santo André gave them an almight scare in the final. Santos won the first leg 3-2 away from home but then went on to lose the second leg by the same scoreline recording a 5-5 aggregate score and the big boys only went on to receive the trophy not by extra-time and penalties but due to their superior regular season table position. In 2011 the likes of record Paulista champions Corinthians, São Paulo and Palmeiras will be determined to add to the honours board.

ABC FC Potiguar

ABC FC show off their record 51st Potiguar championship in 2010

There are some other notable state championships outside of the big two but many of these will contain an outstanding rivalry which has been the focus for many a tournament over the years. In the Mineiro championship, played in the state of Minas Gerais, Atlético Mineiro and Cruzeiro have won 75 of the 95 tournaments that have been played to date and their dominance is expected to continue this year. Record champions Atlético had a surprise contender to face in last year’s Mineiro final coming up against Ipatinga but overcame their ambitious opponents with a 5-2 aggregate score to win their 40th title. The Gaúcho championship will see the Porto Alegre rivalry between Grêmio and Internacional spiced up even further due to the former defending the state title whilst the latter have just enjoyed a second triumph in the Copa Libertadores. There’s more than just local bragging rights at stake for two clubs who have won this tournament 75 times between them, including all but two championships played since 1954.

A special mention must also go to the club ABC FC, who come from the city of Natal in Rio Grande do Norte state, who are the most titled club at state championship level. The current Potiguar championship holders recorded their 51st title triumph in 2010 and are hoping to extend on that record in preparation of the oncoming Brasileiro second division season which begins in late May. ABC FC begin their title defence from January 30th.

South America: Last day tension guaranteed in Brazil and Chile

Posted in South America Football by peterbein on November 29, 2010
Tartá

Tartá scored Fluminense's crucial second goal against Palmeiras

Two of South America’s top leagues are guaranteed a grandstand finish following this weekend’s results. In Brazil any one of three teams – Fluminense, Corinthians or Cruzeiro – can win the title with two points separating them with one match to play. In Chile the current league leaders Universidad Católica must avoid defeat in their final game if they are to take the title from their nearest challengers Colo Colo.

The Campeonato Brasileiro has made a regular habit of last-day title deciders in recent years and this year is no exception. Fluminense lead the way going into the final day with 68 points from 37 games following a tough 2-1 away win at Palmeiras. Dinei gave the home side the lead after just four minutes leaving “Flu” with a mountain to climb. The league leaders showed plenty of determination to come back and they deserved their victory with goals from Carlinhos (18 mins) and Tartá (58 mins) sealing a crucial three points. On their tails hang Corinthians and Cruzeiro who are one and two points behind the leaders respectively and who are waiting to pounce should Fluminense slip up. Corinthians won their penultimate game against Vasco da Gama 2-0 with goals from Bruno César and Danilo. Cruzeiro, like Fluminense, had to come from behind away from home in order to stay in the title race. The Belo Horizonte based team beat last season’s Brasileiro champions Flamengo 2-1 with goals from Roger and Thiago Ribeiro doing the business. On the final day of the season Fluminense hope to secure only their second ever Brasileiro title with a home win against Guarani. Should Fluminense fail to win then Corinthians and Cruzeiro will be hoping that victories over Goiás and Palmeiras respectively will be sufficient for title success.

Universidad Catolica

Will Universidad win the Chilean league?

In Chile the situation is almost more clear cut following this weekend’s results. Universidad Católica, who have been in second place for most of the season, will be in first place going into the final match of the season having come from behind twice and eventually winning 3-2 in a dramatic last-gasp finish against Cobreloa. Juan Eduardo Eluchans scored the winner for Universidad in the 89th minute as they pulled off a remarkable backs to the wall job. Their real reward came 24 hours later after nearest challengers Colo Colo failed to get anything from their game against C.D. O’Higgins. Esteban Paredes equalized for Colo Colo in the 52nd minute having been behind to an early Samuel Teuber goal but things got much worse for the defending champions after that. Firstly O’Higgins went ahead in the 56th minute through Lucas Ojeda and then two Colo Colo players, Rodrigo Melendez and Esteban Paredes, got themselves sent off. The results mean that Universidad Católica have a three point lead going into their final match of the season against relegation threatened CD Everton whilst Colo Colo must win their final game against Universidad de Concepción and hope that the league leaders lose.

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