Fluminense wins 4th Brazilian league title
SAO PAULO (AP) -Fluminense won its second Brazilian title in three years by beating Palmeiras 3-2 after a pair of goals by league-leading scorer Fred on Sunday.
The striker scored an 88th-minute winner to give Fluminense the victory and its fourth national title, adding to triumphs in 2010, 1984 and 1970.
The title was clinched with three rounds left. Ronaldinho's Atletico Mineiro could have kept Fluminense from celebrating but it only managed a 1-1 draw at Vasco da Gama.
Atletico was seeking its first championship since 1971. It dropped to third place in the standings after Gremio came from behind to defeat Sao Paulo 2-1 thanks to a late winner by Bolivia striker Marcelo Moreno, securing Vanderlei Luxemburgo's team in the Copa Libertadores next season.
The loss to Fluminense leaves eight-time champion Palmeiras closer to its second relegation in 10 years. It is seven points from safety.
Palmeiras erased a two-goal deficit in the second half, but Fred sealed Fluminense's victory with his 19th goal by a shot from near the penalty spot after a cross from midfielder Jean. He has three more than Sao Paulo's Luis Fabiano.
Fred opened the scoring in Presidente Prudente with a goal in first-half injury time. Palmeiras goalkeeper Bruno couldn't hold on to a close-range shot by Fluminense forward Wellington Nem, and Fred took advantage of the rebound to drive the ball into the net.
Fred, who had struck the post with a header just a few minutes earlier, also started the play that gave Fluminense its second goal in the 54th, hitting the cross that Palmeiras defender Mauricio Ramos directed into his own net while trying to clear the ball inside the area.
Argentina striker Hernan Barcos pulled Palmeiras closer in the 61st - scoring his 14th league goal and 28th of the season - and midfielder Patrick Vieira equalized in the 65th. But Fred's goal in a late breakaway ended the team's chances for a comeback.
The result is expected to further increase pressure on Palmeiras' players and club directors, who during the week received serious threats from some of the team's fan groups.
With Fluminense's victory, Atletico Mineiro's only chance to keep its title hopes alive was to beat Vasco da Gama, which was coming off six straight losses.
Ronaldinho converted a 27th-minutex penalty kick after a controversial fall from defender Douglas on Argentine midfielder Damian Escudero, but Vasco da Gama equalized at its Sao Januario Stadium in Rio de Janeiro with striker's Alecsandro shot from close range in the 56th.
Atletico played a man down from the 41st after midfielder Serginho was sent off with a second yellow card. Vasco da Gama lost Douglas with a second yellow in the 83rd.
Gremio moved to second in the 20-team standings after Moreno's 85th-minute winner at the Olimpico Stadium in Porto Alegre. Sao Paulo goalkeeper Rogerio Ceni had converted a 44th-minute penalty kick to open the scoring, and striker Andres Lima equalized for Gremio with a shot from the top of the area in the 61st.
On Saturday, Botafogo routed Portuguesa 3-0 at the Engenhao stadium in Rio, moving within five points of fourth-place Sao Paulo. The top four clubs will secure a Copa Libertadores spot in 2013.
Also Saturday, defending champion Corinthians, focused on the Club World Cup in December, routed Coritiba 5-1 at the Pacaembu Stadium.
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