RIO DE JANEIRO - Sao Paulo missed a chance to clinch the Brazilian championship title with a match to spare on Sunday when they were held to a 1-1 draw at home by Fluminense. Gremio kept the title race alive by coming from behind to win 4-1 at Ipatinga, cutting Sao Paulo's lead to three points. Portuguesa and Ipatinga became the first two teams to be relegated while Flamengo continued an unhappy sequence of mishaps at the Maracana stadium when they blew a 3-0 lead and were held 3-3 at home by Goias. Fluminense, beaten finalists in this year's South American Libertadores Cup, took a shock lead at the Morumbi when Tarta scored from a rebound four minutes into the second half. Striker Borges equalised eight minutes later despite failing to connect properly with Jorge Wagner's cross. Sao Paulo defender Andre Dias headed against the post with seven minutes left, leaving his team needing a draw from their visit to Goias next Sunday to win the title for the third time in a row. Gremio fell behind to a fifth-minute goal from Pablo Escobar at Ipatinga but two goals from striker Marcel and one from Jean gave them a 3-1 halftime lead before Leo added another after halftime. The result condemned bottom club Ipatinga to the second division and Portuguesa, who like Ipatinga were promoted last year, followed them when they were held 2-2 at home by Sport Recife. The bottom four in the 20-team table go down. Flamengo's chances of finishing in the top four and qualifying for the Libertadores Cup suffered a blow with their home draw against Goias. The Vultures raced to a 3-0 lead in only 35 minutes with two goals from striker Obina -- a cult figure at the club -- and one from full back Juan. Goias pulled two back before halftime with a Paulo Baier penalty and an Ernando header before Thiago Feltri levelled midway through the second half to leave Flamengo fifth. Earlier this year, Flamengo suffered a humiliating elimination in the Libertadores Cup when they were beaten 3-0 at home by Mexican side America, having gone into the match with a 4-2 lead from the first leg. Their Brazilian title chances were effectively scuppered after another unhappy Maracana experience last month when their biggest home crowd of the season saw them lost 3-0 to midtable Atletico Mineiro.
30 November 2008
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