Flamengo win derby ahead of Ronaldinho debut

RIO DE JANEIRO - Flamengo, counting down the days to former Brazil international Ronaldinho's highly anticipated debut, beat Vasco da Gama 2-1 in the first derby of the Carioca (Rio de Janeiro) state championship on Sunday.

At the end of a day in which thousands of fans stood in long queues at sale points in Rio seeking a ticket for Ronaldinho's debut against Nova Iguacu on Wednesday, Flamengo upped the anticipation with victory over their traditional rivals.

"He'll make his debut, he's anxious to. We've already lowered the rhythm of his training a little and now he's creating an expectancy and anxiety for the match," Flamengo coach Vanderlei Luxemburgo said.

"I have a few tactical options to set up the team and we're going to see which is best," Luxemburgo told reporters at the Enganhao stadium where former FIFA World Player of the Year Ronaldinho watched Sunday's match.

For Vasco, yet to win after four matches this season, the defeat was another blow after former Portugal coach Carlos Queiroz turned down an offer to take charge of the team following last week's sacking of Paulo Cesar Gusmao.

Goals from striker Deivid and midfielder Thiago Neves, who are expected to form an attacking trident with Ronaldinho, put Flamengo ahead in the first half. Romulo pulled one back 15 minutes from time.

The goal by Neves, also a new signing this season, was the pick as he lobbed goalkeeper Fernando Prass and then rounded him to push the ball into the net with his thigh.

Santos beat Sao Paulo 2-0 in a top Paulista (Sao Paulo) championship clash with another fine performance and goal from midfielder Elano, who returned to the club from Galatasaray after six years in Europe. It was his third goal in two matches.