The duo, along with keeper Rafael, were once more available for selection after their Olympic exploits and they instantly made an impact with a goal each for the Peixe
Brasileiro: Round 17 Results
|Figueirense 1-3 Santos
It did not look as though the evening was going to go as planned when Caio burst through the Peixe's defensive ranks and last man Juan was forced to bring the striker down. He was subsequently dismissed with just 10 minutes on the clock but on the half-hour mark, and after a string of saves from Rafael, another red card levelled out the teams. Tulio felled Neymar as the forward darted towards goal and instantly received his marching orders for the challenge. However, it did not stop Muricy Ramalho's side from going behind as three minutes into the second half Fernandes headed home from Aloisio's cross.
Figueira were only ahead for three minutes though as Santos restored parity through none other than Neymar. The 20-year-old beat two men before bending the ball into the top right corner to score his third goal in just his fourth league appearance this season. The hosts were unable to regain their lead despite a number of attempts and the Peixe went ahead for the first time on the night with a magnificent solo goal from Bruno Peres. The scoring was complete as Neymar maintained composure after latching onto a through ball and handed Ganso a tap in with a square ball across the area.
Santos remain in 14th position, but the return of their key trio should spur them up the table. Figueirense, meanwhile, remain rooted to the foot of the league and are five points adrift of safety.
|Nautico 3-0 Sao Paulo
Sao Paulo lost their third consecutive game as they crashed to a 3-0 defeat to newly-promoted Nautico at the Estadio dos Aflitos.
Ney Franco is yet to get his side performing consistently and it was not long until they found themselves behind once again. Rogerio Ceni had made a fantastic stop to deny Araujo earlier in the game but there he was little he could do as Kieza slotted home from the penalty spot with 13 minutes played after a handball by Rafael Toloi. With 29 minutes on the lock the Timbu doubled their advantage. Rhayner showed great determination as he drove at goal but his initial effort was tame. However, Ceni's parry only fell as far as Araujo who passed the ball into the back of the net.
Ceni sent a 20-yard free kick narrowly wide of the hosts' goal moments later but the Tricolor Paulista went in behind. But the keeper eventually scuppered any chance his team had of getting back into the match in the 62nd minute. As he vacated his net to collect a corner from Souza, Ceni's punch looped back towards his own goal and the ball fell in despite a host of bodies on the line. By full-time the visitors were unlucky not to have lost by even more.
Nautico move up to 12th position courtesy of the three points while Sao Paulo drop to eighth position.
|Botafogo 2-0 Sport Recife
Two second-half goals, one from Clarence Seedorf, helped push Botafogo past Sport Recife with a 2-0 win at the Engenhao.
Sport have produced a number of sub-par performances so far this season and will have been disappointed not to have taken something from the game as Fogao were less than convincing in their win. Oswaldo de Oliveira's side really should have notched their first goal in the first half but Cidinho was unable to bundle Renato's cross in at the back post. The visitors then had a goal ruled out on the half hour mark after Hugo converted a centre from the left, though the offside decision looked to be correct.
Jefferson was keeping his team in the game with a number of top-drawer saves and the home fans were finally given something to cheer when Elkeson controlled the ball with his chest in the area before lashing a volley into the far corner. Seedorf then added the second 13 minutes from time, intercepting a pass out of defence and hammering an effort into the goal, despite the touch of Magrao.
Botafogo move up to sixth place with the victory while Sport continue to languish in the relegation zone in 18th position.
|Vasco da Gama 2-2 Coritiba
Vasco missed the chance to close the gap at the top of the table after conceding a late goal in a 2-2 draw with Coritiba at the Sao Januario.
Coxa, who have only won two of their eight league fixtures since defeat in the Copa do Brasil final, were under mounting pressure during the early stages of the first half, but took a surprise lead in the 22nd minute. A counterattack caught Vasco short of numbers at the back, and when Everton Ribeiro spotted Junior Urso's overlapping run, he laid the ball to his right for his team-mate, who duly slotted past Fernando Prass. Two minutes later the visitors thought they had added another, but Sergio Escudero was in an offside position before he headed the ball into the back of the net.
Coritiba held onto their advantage into the break but within four minutes of the restart parity was restored. Carlos Alberto showed great poise to pass the ball to Felipe after a winding run, and the veteran midfielder to one shot, before sending a snap-shot low into the corner of Vanderlei's goal. The Gigante de Colina were desperate to find a winner and it seemed that is what they had when Wendel eventually netted in the 88th minute. But with 90 minutes on the clock, Vasco crumbled and Everton Ribeiro showed delightful technique as he caught Escudero's knock-down on the volley and drilled it in.
The Rio de Janeiro side were unable to move above their city rivals Fluminense and thus remain in third place. A single point was enough to stop Coritiba from falling into the drop zone, though they will be eager for improved results in the coming weeks.
|Best of the Rest
Hernan Barcos' third goal in three games was enough to edge Palmeiras a 1-0 victory over a 10-man Flamengo. Atletico Mineiro could only muster a 1-1 draw against Atletico Goianiense, but Fluminense failed to capitalise on the league leaders' slip-up with a 1-1 tie with Cruzeiro. Souza was in top form as Bahia downed Ponte Preta 2-0 in Campinas while a Paulo Andre goal was the difference between Corinthians and Internacional at the Pacaembu. Gremio lost ground on the trio at the top as they were defeated 2-1 at home to Portuguesa.
|Player of the Round
Upon his return to the Santos set-up, Neymar was the catalyst for a win against Figueirense that was by no means a certainty. The Peixe have struggled in front of goal in recent weeks, but the return of the 20-year-old superstar put an end to that. He brought his team back into the game with a stunning strike, and added an assist in the closing stages with an unselfish pass to Ganso. It will be a tough ask for Muricy Ramalho's men to climb the table and secure Copa Libertadores football next season, but with such a talent in their ranks they still have a chance.