Sao Paulo sack Ramalho after Libertadores flop

RIO DE JANEIRO - Coach Muricy Ramalho, who steered Sao Paulo to three successive Brazilian league titles, paid the price for Libertadores Cup failure by being sacked on Friday. Ramalho's team were beaten 2-0 at home by fellow Brazilian side Cruzeiro on Thursday, going out 4-1 on aggregate in the competition's quarter-finals and prompting fans to daub the stadium walls with demands for him to go. "Juvenal (Juvencio, president of Sao Paulo) called Muricy for a meeting in the evening and sacked him," the 53-year-old coach's press aide Josiane Ribeiro told Reuters. The club confirmed the sacking on its website (www.spfc.com.br) and said: 'Muricy Ramalho will go to the training centre on Saturday to say goodbye to the players, coaching staff and officials." An exception in Brazil for having spent so long in one job, Ramalho, who took charge of Sao Paulo in January 2006, failed in all his attempts to steer his team to the South American crown, losing in each of the last four years to other Brazilian sides. His tactics, defensive, physical, brutally efficient in attack and often destructive, came unstuck against the fluid counter-attacking game of Cruzeiro with two Sao Paulo players sent off in Thursday's second leg. The Libertadores was a priority for Sao Paulo, who won their third cup in 2005, and Ramalho survived previous calls for his head with domestic success. His record with Sao Paulo was 139 wins 67 draws and 46 defeats in 252 matches. Ramalho, who played for Sao Paulo in the 1970s, was voted the country's best coach in the last four seasons, having steered Internacional to second place in the Brazilian championship in 2005.