Stoppage Time – International Football Blog

Brazil: State Championship Round-Up (+video)

Posted in South America Football by peterbein on May 3, 2010

Various state championships came to a conclusion in Brazil this weekend and there were no real surprises in terms of the eventual winners. The Carioca Championship already hailed its new champion Botafogo two weeks ago after the team had won both stages of their state competition. This weekend saw more victorious scenes in various state championships which have now all been decided with just a week to go before the new Brasileiro (Brazilian national championship) season gets under way. “Stoppage Time – International Football Blog” reports on the best of the action.

In the Paulista (São Paulo State) Championship little Santo André had surprised many by reaching the final of the tournament. In the regular season, which saw twenty teams play each other once only with the top four going through to knockout semi-finals, Santo André finished ten points behind first placed Santos FC to claim a place in the semi-finals. They negotiated their way past another surprise semi-finalist Grêmio Prudente only on the back of having a better regular season record after both teams had drawn 3-3 on aggregate. Alas, the system which worked in Santo André’s favour in the semi-finals worked against them in the final where they were to be undone by favourites Santos FC.

The regular season winners won the first leg away from home by three goals to two thanks to strikes from André and Wesley (2) but the minnows of Santo André were far from finished. In the second leg the outsiders took the lead after just thirty seconds through a Nunes tap-in but Santos FC restored parity within seven minutes thanks to a well worked goal from Neymar. Santo André regained the lead just twelve minutes later after Alê scored with a header from a corner but Santos FC played their part in a topsy-turvy first-half by equalizing for a second time. Again it was Neymar who was on target for the home side after he slotted home from thirteen yards out to finish off a wonderful skilful move from the home side. Santo André, however, went down fighting in their quest for a maiden Paulista title. One minute before half-time the minnows regained the lead for a third time after Branquinho finished off a nice move down the centre of the pitch to give Santo André a 3-2 lead at the break. Sadly for the away side they just couldn’t take any further opportunities to score in the second half and Santos FC held out to claim their 18th Paulista championship title after the tie was decided by virtue of Santos’s superior regular season record after the two-legged final had finished 5-5 on aggregate. Watch highlights of the second leg here (Santos FC in white strip, Santo André in blue):

In the Campeonato Gaúcho, the state championship of Rio Grande do Sul, it was far from surprising to see perennial rivals Internacional and Grêmio lock horns in the final. These two clubs are the powerful forces in the region and they consolidated their local dominance due to Grêmio winning the first stage of the regular season and Internacional winning the second stage to set up the grand final. In the first leg Grêmio secured a 2-0 victory on away territory in the final quarter of the match. Rodrigo’s bullet header from a corner gave the Tricolor the lead after 67 minutes with Borges sealing the win three minutes from time heading home unmarked at the far post from a free-kick. Watch highlights here (Grêmio in light blue, black and white strip, Internacional in red):

Internacional knew that they had a lot to do to pull off an unlikely championship win but they, at least, were able to frighten their opponents in the second leg having taken the lead after just nine minutes with a well-taken strike from Giuliano from the edge of the Grêmio penalty box. Sadly for Inter they were unable to grab the crucial second goal which would’ve taken the match into extra-time. Grêmio sealed their 36th Gaúcho and now only trail Inter by three titles as the latter won their 39th state title last year. Watch second leg goal here:

The Mineiro Championship (Minas Gerais state) was expected to be the usual contest between the powerhouses of the region Atlético Mineiro and Cruzeiro but this year the latter, despite finishing top of the regular season, were made to suffer in the semi-finals going out to little known Ipatinga losing 3-1 on aggregate. Atlético Mineiro were made heavy favourites to win the title after they had got through their semi-final against Democrata by a 2-1 aggregate scoreline to set up the two-legged final with Cruzeiro’s conquerors. The first leg turned out to be a tough match for Atlético who managed to worm their way through with a 3-2 lead to take into the second leg thanks to Diego Tardelli and a brace from Muriqui. The second leg was a much kinder affair for Atlético as they sealed a record extending 40th local championship thanks to goals from Diego Tardelli and Marques in the last twenty minutes of the game in front of a partisan home crowd. See highlights of the second leg here:

Finally we must mention little known ABC FC who are the record state championship holders in Brazil. They won the Campeonato Potiguar for the 51st time after disposing of Atlético Clube Corintians from Rio Grande do Sul 6-3 in the two-legged final. Check out some of the celebrations here:

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