Corinthians salute Socrates with fifth title

Corinthians won the Brazilian championship for the fifth time on Sunday on the final day of the season following the death in hospital of their former midfielder Socrates, the Brazil 1982 World Cup captain.

Needing only a point from their derby against Sao Paulo city arch-rivals Palmeiras, Corinthians drew 0-0 to finish on 71 from 38 matches, two points ahead of closest challengers Vasco da Gama.

The race to the title, Corinthians' first since they won it in 2005 led by Argentina striker Carlos Tevez, went to the wire after Vasco scored a last-minute winner against outgoing champions Fluminense last weekend.

Both sides finished the match with nine men each at the Pacaembu in Sao Paulo.

Fighting broke out near the end between players of the two teams after Corinthians forward Jorge Henrique juggled the ball keeping possession and Palmeiras defender Joao Vitor took offence, fouled him and was sent off.

Corinthians' central defender Leandro Castan was also sent off after the melee. Palmeiras's Chilean midfielder Jorge Valdivia had been red-carded just after half-time and Wallace of Corinthians was sent off midway through the second half.

Vasco, who needed a win and a loss for Corinthians, were held 1-1 by their Rio arch-rivals Flamengo in a derby at the Engenhao that was also marred by a red card for each team in the final 20 minutes.

Striker Diego Souza put Vasco ahead after half-an-hour but Flamengo captain Ronaldinho laid on a 55th-minute equaliser for Renato Abreu with a fine 40-metre pass.


"This triumph crowns a job well done," Corinthians forward Alex told reporters on the Pacaembu pitch.

"It's a shame Dr Socrates isn't with us to celebrate because surely he was going to be a part of this party, but this title remains as a homage to him too."

Socrates, a practising doctor after he retired who helped Corinthians win three Sao Paulo state championships during his six years at the club, died of septic shock in a Sao Paulo hospital at the age of 57.

Before the match in Sao Paulo, Corinthians' players gathered in the centre circle and each raised a clenched fist in homage to the team's former captain mimicking his trademark goal celebration during a minute's silence that was also observed at the day's other matches.

Vasco, despite Sunday's disappointment, had a good season winning the Copa Brasil knockout competition and reaching the semi-finals of the Copa Sudamericana, South America's equivalent of the Europa League.

Fluminense, who finished third, Flamengo and Internacional also qualified for next year's Copa Libertadores, the region's champions' league.

Twice Libertadores winners Cruzeiro began the day in danger of relegation after a poor season but secured their top flight survival in style crushing city rivals Atletico Mineiro 6-1 in the Belo Horizonte derby.

Atletico Paranaense and Ceara were relegated, joining Avai and America-MG who had already been doomed to the drop.