Seedorf's Botafogo wins Rio state championship
SAO PAULO (AP) -Botafogo clinched its 20th Rio de Janeiro title on Sunday by beating Fluminense 1-0 in the final of the Rio Cup, the second stage of the state championship.
The team led by Dutch midfielder Clarence Seedorf automatically won the state title because it had also won the Guanabara Cup, the tournament's first stage.
Seedorf missed a penalty in the 78th minute, but Rafael Marques' goal in the 40th proved enough to give Botafogo its first state title since 2010.
"This is a great moment in my career,'' said the 37-year-old midfielder, who cried after the final whistle in Volta Redonda. "Each title I've won so far had something special about it. I'm very moved to win here in Rio.''
Botafogo dominated the match against Fluminense, the defending state champion. Marques scored the winner at the Raulino de Oliveira Stadium with a low shot from near the penalty spot. Marques, who hadn't scored in more than 20 matches, had a goal disallowed because of offside in the 29th after a perfect pass by Uruguay striker Nicolas Lodeiro. Replays showed Marques was onside.
The striker also netted in the 78th, but the referee disallowed it and instead gave Botafogo a penalty, saying that defender Bolivar was fouled inside the area before the ball went in.
Botafogo loudly complained, especially after Seedorf sent his penalty shot into the crossbar.
"I have to thank Seedorf because without him in the team this year this triumph would have been much harder to achieve,'' Botafogo coach Oswaldo Oliveira said.
Seedorf came to Botafogo last year as one of the biggest transfers by a foreign player to Brazil. He won the Champions League with Ajax in 1995, with Real Madrid in 1998 and with Milan in 2003 and 2007. The midfielder played at the 1998 World Cup with the Netherlands, plus the 1996, 2000 and 2004 European Championships.
The Rio Cup final was played in Volta Redonda because the Engenhao stadium in Rio remains closed due to a faulty roof. The Maracana couldn't be used because it is being prepared for the Confederations Cup in June.
Fluminense had to beat Botafogo to force a two-game final against the rival for the state title.
In the Sao Paulo state championship, Alexandre Pato converted the winning penalty as Corinthians defeated Sao Paulo 4-3 in a shootout at the Morumbi Stadium, advancing to a final against three-time defending champion Santos, which edged Mogi Mirim 5-4 on penalties on Saturday in the other semifinal.
Pato initially missed his shot, but the referee allowed him to retake it because Sao Paulo goalkeeper Rogerio Ceni moved forward before the kick. Former Brazil striker Luis Fabiano and young playmaker Paulo Henrique Ganso missed their penalties for Sao Paulo. The game ended 0-0 in regulation.
Internacional, coached by former Brazil manager Dunga and led by Uruguay striker Diego Forlan and Argentine playmaker Andres D'Alessandro, defeated Juventude 4-3 on penalties to win its third-straight Rio Grande do Sul state championship after a scoreless draw in regulation. Forlan scored one of the goals for Inter in the shootout.
In the Minas Gerais state championship, Atletico Mineiro routed Tombense 5-1 to advance to the final 7-1 on aggregate. Atletico got the easy win despite resting playmaker Ronaldinho for the team's match against Sao Paulo in round of 16 of the Copa Libertadores. Cruzeiro and Villa Nova will play the second leg of their semifinal on Wednesday. Cruzeiro won the first match 4-0.
Regional championships are played in the first few months of the year in Brazil, and the national league starts later this month.
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