Podium catches fire amid Corinthians celebrations

RIO DE JANEIRO - Ronaldo's Corinthians completed an aggregate victory over Santos to win the Paulista championship on Sunday but their celebrations were nearly ruined when the podium caught fire during the trophy ceremony. Flames licked the makeshift podium as Corinthians captain William was presented with the trophy but the fire, started by combination of fireworks and vast amounts of confetti on the pitch, was quickly stamped out. Corinthians president Andres Sanches and Brazil's Sports Minister Orlando Silva were also on the podium which was mounted on the pitch. Ronaldo, who scored twice in last week's 3-1 first leg win for Corinthians, criticised the scenes which followed the 1-1 draw in Sunday's return at the Pacaembu. "It was obvious that it was going to catch fire," he told a news conference. "They should have thought of something better. "William could have been burned and, instead of celebrating, we could now be visiting him in hospital." "I lament the disorganisation," added Ronaldo, who was surrounded by reporters and cameramen as the final whistle went. "I didn't have the chance to celebrate with our supporters, I kept getting hit by microphones." Brazil coach Dunga was in the crowd, increasing speculation that Ronaldo may be in line for an international recall at 32 after his impressive return to action following last year's knee injury when he was at AC Milan. "The national team will be a consequence, I have to think first about Corinthians," Ronaldo added. Santos went ahead when Kleber Pereira won and converted a penalty but Andre Santos levelled for Corinthians before halftime. The Paulista is the biggest of the state championships which kick off the Brazilian season. PENALTY SAVES Meanwhile, Flamengo won the Carioca championship after beating Botafogo in the final for the third year running. Sunday's second leg ended 2-2 for a 4-4 aggregate draw but Flamengo won 4-2 on penalties when goalkeeper Bruno, who had already saved one penalty during normal time, saved two more in the shootout. "Penalties are not a lottery," Bruno insisted. Former Brazil and Manchester United midfielder Kleberson scored twice to give Flamengo a 2-0 halftime lead at the Maracana. Victor Simoes had his penalty saved by Bruno at the start of the second half but two goals in three minutes from Juninho and Tulio Souza levelled the score. "I've removed an enormous block of cement from my back," said Flamengo coach Cuca, who was on the losing side with Botafogo in the previous two years. Former Brazil coach Emerson Leao was sent off for running onto the pitch at halftime to protest as Atletico Mineiro drew 1-1 with Cruzeiro in the second leg of the Minas Gerais final in Belo Horizonte. Cruzeiro, who extended their unbeaten run against their bitter rivals to 12 games, won last week's first leg 5-0. The game ended in an ugly melee which resulted in red cards for Welton (Atletico) and Wellington Paulista (Cruzeiro).