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The mercurial striker continued his impressive international form by adding a goal to teenager Victor Andrade's composed opener, securing a huge win for Muricy Ramalho's men



Brasileiro: Round 24 Results

Table/Fixtures


Santos 2-0 Flamengo

Santos secured a hugely important win as they netted two late goals to defeat Flamengo 2-0 at the Vila Belmiro.

Neymar returned to the starting line-up for the Peixe on Wednesday evening despite featuring, and scoring a hat-trick, for Brazil in the 8-0 win over China on Monday night. His impact on the side was felt immediately as he forced a save from Felipe, who tipped the striker's free kick over the bar after just five minutes. Soon after, Rafael produced an equally impressive save to deny Ibson before the quarter-hour mark had even passed. The Rubro-Negro remained dangerous on the counterattack, but neither Mattheus nor Vagner Love could find the back of the net.

The game fell stale in the second half but the final five minutes saw it spur to life, and ultimately swing the way of the hosts. Vagner Love thought he had put Flamengo ahead in the closing stages but his poked effort rebounded off the post and back into the arms of Rafael. It sparked an immediate response from Santos, who went up the other end of the field and scored through 16-year-old Victor Andrade, who supplied an ice-cold finish by dinking the ball over the onrushing keeper. Neymar completed the scoring three minutes from time as the forward beat Marllon for pace, before adding a similar finish to that of his team-mate, looping the ball into the net.

The three points see Santos rise 11th place in what is becoming an increasingly tight bottom half, with Flamengo occupying 16th position with just three points fewer.

Portuguesa 0-2 Fluminense

Fluminense were forced to battle for victory but they eventually succeeded, downing Portuguesa 2-0 at the Caninde.

The hosts came storming out of the blocks and created a chance within the first minute as the in-form Bruno Mineiro got a header on target. Fortunately for Abel Braga, his side can count on one of the league's best goalkeepers in Diego Cavalieri and the former Liverpool man reacted expertly to parry the effort aside. However, Lusa are by no means short on ability in the goalkeeping department and in the eighth minute that was proven as Dida did superbly to deny Wellington Nem from giving Fluzao the lead. Portuguesa continued to attack but both Mineiro and Leo Silva failed to break the deadlock.

Indeed, it was not actually until the 74th minute that the ball was put in the back of the net, and despite all of their impressive play, it did not go the way of the hosts. Jean collected a loose ball on the edge of the area before picking out his spot and bending a low shot through a crowd of bodies and into the bottom corner. Wellington Nem made sure of the result two minutes later as he latched onto a flick-on from a Cavalieri's goal kick, snatching the ball away from Diego Viana before rounding the keeper and slotting into a vacant net.

Fluminense remain on top of the pile with their third consecutive win while Portuguesa fall to 12th position due to Santos' win.

Vasco da Gama 3-1 Palmeiras

Vasco da Gama came from behind to win their first game without Cristovao Borges at the helm by beating Palmeiras 3-1 at the Sao Januario.

Although former Coritiba coach Marcelo Oliveira was announced as Cristovao's replacement during the week, temporary charge for the visit of the Verdao was taken by Gaucho. The interim boss suffered a nightmare start as, despite some promising attacking football in the opening stages, Palmeiras took the lead. With 24 minutes on the clock Fernando Prass kept out Tiago Real's header but he parried the ball straight to the feet of Luan who pounced and tucked the ball home. The visitors only held the advantage for six minutes though as Alecsandro nodded Wendel's cross to the feet of Carlos Tenorio and the Ecuadorian swept home to restore parity.

Luan was unable to add to his tally with two golden opportunities, one either side of half time, and the Gigante de Colina capitalised, taking the lead in the 52nd minute as Nilton glanced a header in from Juninho Pernambucano's free kick. The veteran midfielder then added a goal of his own with 72 minutes played as he slid the ball past Bruno following a swift break by the hosts. Drama remained after the final whistle however as the following day Palmeiras sacked Luiz Felipe Scolari after a string of disappointing results.

Felipao leaves the club second-from-bottom and seven points adrift of safety. Vasco, meanwhile, will hope the triumph will spur them on to securing a Copa Libertadores place from their current fourth position.

Atletico Mineiro 1-0 Sao Paulo

Atletico Mineiro kept pace with Fluminense as they laboured to a 1-0 win over Sao Paulo at the Independencia.

Galo began the game positively and put the visitors on the back foot from kick-off and they could well have taken the lead in the 13th minute but Rogerio Ceni did well to dart out of his goal and clear Guilherme's cross before Leonardo could slot it past him. Ronaldinho then stung the keeper's palms 13 minutes later as his rifled free kick from wide on the right had Ceni worried. Then, shortly before the half-hour mark, the hosts were given a massive boost as Douglas was shown a straight red card for a clumsy and late tackle on Leandro Donizete.

Ceni remained in top form, though, and produced another great save to deny Bernard from finding the corner after catching the Tricolor Paulista by surprise with a rapid break before half time. But in the 62nd minute they finally found the net as Bernard's whipped delivery from out on the right was met by the head of Leonardo who nodded in his first goal for the club since joining from Coritiba. There could have been more goals in it for the hosts but Neto Berola's effort that rattled against the bar was their best opportunity of the remaining minutes.

Atletico remain in second position with the win but could return to the summit should they win their game in hand against Flamengo. Ney Franco's men remain in sixth place but saw the gap to Libertadores qualification widen.

Best of the Rest

A late goal from Emerson Sheik salvaged a point for Corinthians in a 1-1 draw with Ponte Preta. Figueirense edged closer to safety with a 2-0 win over Cruzeiro while Gremio maintained their title hunt by downing Nautico by the same scoreline. Sport Recife and Bahia shared the spoils with a 1-1 tie but struggling Atletico Goianiense could not match even that as they were sunk 2-1 by Coritiba. Elsewhere, a late Cidinho strike cancelled out Leandro Damiao's opener as Botafogo and Internacional shared the spoils in a 1-1 draw.

Player of the Round

Having been selected for the Brazil squad in the forthcoming Superclasico de las Americas fixtures with Argentina, Bernard justified his place with a scintillating performance in Atletico Mineiro's win over Sao Paulo. The wide-man displayed fantastic pace and dribbling skill in the wide areas, as well as providing a threat when moving into the centre and looking to get in behind the defence. He was unlucky not to get a goal himself but a terrific cross provided an assist for the game's only goal. A similar performance against Argentina next week could bring him into contention for a spot in the full senior team.

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