Diego Souza had given the home side hope with a first-half header, but their Rio rivals condemned them to second place with the midfielder's well-taken effort
Playmaker Diego Souza scored a header after 30 minutes to move the hosts level with leaders Corinthians at the top of the table, although the Timao would have still lifted the title thanks to a 0-0 draw against Palmeiras. Renato, however hit home after half time to ensure a share of the points, and confirm the Sao Paulo side as champions.
Vasco went in to Sunday's final game needing a win to have a chance of the Brasileirao title, but in the opening 30 minutes they struggled to break down their city rivals. Neither side pushed hard in the early exchanges, making for an uninspiring start to proceedings.
On the half-hour, however, the Gigante da Colina got the goal they so desperately desired. Nilton opened up the Flamengo defence with some great play down the right wing, and his cross was met by the head of Diego Souza who steered the ball into the back of the net. The goal put Vasco level on points with Corinthians, who nevertheless still held the advantage by virtue of their extra game won.
Souza went close again only to be thwarted by excellent defensive work by Willians, who came to the rescue when it appeared the playmaker was to double the lead. Willians then threatened at the other end following Thiago Neves' corner, but his header was kept out by Fernando Prass in the Vasco net.
The home team went into the break with a slim lead, but with Corinthians and Palmeiras still deadlocked it would not be sufficient unless the Verde could take the advantage. Flamengo meanwhile remained in place for Copa Libertadores qualification, although only a win would guarantee them a spot in the continental competition at full time.
A beautiful individual move from Felipe almost brought Vasco their second of the game five minutes into the second period. The midfielder took the ball from Fagner and effortlessly skipped through the Fla back line, but his shot was well saved by goalkeeper Felipe, who turned behind for a corner.
The Brasileirao hopefuls were then dealt a hammer blow. Deivid did well to hold the ball up on the edge of the Gigante area, and his pass then found Renato clean through on the keeper, to blast into the back of the net.
Vasco's chances were fast evaporating, and took a further hit when Jumar saw red. The left back had already been booked, and deservedly received his marching orders for cutting down the flying Junior Cesar from behind. Substitute Bernardo, however, almost put his team back in the lead, only to be denied again by the excellent Felipe.
The home side pushed forward but could not find a way through, despite goalscorer Renato's late red card for dissent, and had to settle for second place in the Brazilian Serie A after an excellent second half of the season put them back into contention. Both Vasco and Flamengo will compete in the 2012 Copa Libertadores, the visitors finishing in fourth place overall.