Flamengo crash out of another competition

Ronaldinho's Flamengo hit a new low on Sunday when they were knocked out of the Carioca (Rio de Janeiro) state championship.

Eliminated from the Libertadores Cup earlier this month, Flamengo lost 3-2 to arch-rivals Vasco da Gama in the semi-finals of the tournament's second stage, fuelling speculation about the future of captain Ronaldinho and coach Joel Santana.

The only one of Brazil's six teams in the Libertadores Cup to fail to go through to the knockout rounds, Flamengo will now be idle for a month before the Brazilian first division championship, their only remaining competition this year.

A defiant Santana compared his side's poor form to Spanish club Barcelona, who lost their last two matches to Real Madrid and Chelsea.

"Barcelona lost two matches and run the risk of being eliminated [from the Champions League] on Tuesday. Are they going to sack that lad [coach Pep Guardiola]?" Santana asked.

"Of course not, because the culture there is the right one. We have to be like that here in Brazil, too. We can't talk of sackings at each elimination," he told the post-match news conference.

"We need security and balance to work."

Ronaldinho said after Flamengo's Libertadores failure that he only wanted to leave "through the front door" following media speculation that the club, who are behind with his salary, was trying to offload their most expensive asset.

Flamengo were not the only team to crash out of their state championship with Corinthians going down to a shock 3-2 defeat by modest Ponte Preta in the Paulista (Sao Paulo).