The 29-year-old forward bagged a double to bring home the Rio de Janeiro outfit's second title in three years, but defeat leaves the Verdao staring relegation in the face
Fluminense clinched their fourth Brasileirao title with a 3-2 win over relegation threatened Palmeiras in Presidente Prudente.
Brasileiro: Round 35 Results
Brasileiro: Round 35 Results
|Palmeiras 2-3 Fluminense
Although the fixture was moved to a larger stadium, 500 kilometres away from Sao Paulo, there was not an attendance fitting of arguably the biggest match of the season.
Fluzao knew that a win would crown them champions should Atletico Mineiro fail to defeat Vasco da Gama, while for the Verdao the three points were necessary to aid their attempts to escape the relegation zone.
Therefore, with both teams equally motivated, there was very little to separate them in the first-half. Hernan Barcos had managed to find space on a few occasions, but he was unable to truly test the in-form Diego Cavalieri.
The scores were level with half-time looming, but Fred had other ideas. After rattling the post in the 38th minute, the 29-year-old found the net in stoppage time as he fired home after Wellington Nem's header had been saved.
Fred then had a hand in his side's second, as his cross from the right looped off of Palmeiras defender Mauricio Ramos, flew over Bruno, and dropped in the net.
The Alviverde finally came to life and began to look like a side with something to fight for and a quickfire-double brought them level with the league leaders. Barcos tapped home the first, pouncing on a loose ball in the area, and Patrick Vieira steered in a free header with 65 minutes played. But, there was still more drama to be had, as Fred netted his 19th goal of the season with a cool finish from Jean's cross on 88 minutes.
With results going their way, Fluminense secured their second championship in three years. Palmeiras, meanwhile, failed to gain ground in the relegation battle and remain seven points adrift of safety with just three games remaining.
|Corinthians 5-1 Coritiba
Inter target Paulinho was in fantastic form as Corinthians surged to an emphatic 5-1 win over Coritiba at the Pacaembu.
It took the Timao just six minutes to get off the mark as Jose Paulo Guerrero was brought down in the area. Chicao stepped up to take the penalty and although Vanderlei guessed the right way, the defender put enough power on it to find the back of the net. Two goals in two minutes gave the hosts an impressive three-goal lead with only 20 minutes on the clock.
Fabio Santos' volley wrong footed the goalkeeper after taking a wicked deflection off Sergio Escudero, before Paulinho's cross was given a helping hand on its way into the net, again from the Argentine centre-back.
Deivid set up an interesting second-half when he tapped home from Victor Ferraz's cross just after the half-hour mark, but Coxa were unable to resist the Sao Paulo side. Guerrero restored the three-goal cushion in the 65th minute when he rounded off a brilliant team move by finding space between the centre-backs to head home from Danilo's cross. The rout was then completed four minutes later, as Paulinho nodded in from Douglas' corner, leaving the keeper with no chance.
Victory moves Corinthians up to sixth place, but their place in next year's Copa Libertadores is already secured as holders. Coritiba are almost safe from relegation, currently sitting eight points clear of the drop zone in 14th.
|Gremio 2-1 Sao Paulo
Gremio secured a spot in the 2013 Libertadores as they came from behind to defeat Sao Paulo 2-1 at the Olimpico.
The game began fairly evenly, though the Tricolor Paulista were keen to pick up all three points and take an automatic qualification place for the next edition of South America's premier club competition.
Luis Fabiano almost put them on the right path in the 18th minute, but his header was turned behind by Marcelo Grohe. Leo Gago and Souza both saw efforts fly narrowly over the bar as the first-half continued, but it was the visitors who broke the deadlock on the stroke of half-time. Saimon shoved Osvaldo over in the area and goalkeeper Rogerio Ceni converted from the spot.
Vanderlei Luxemburgo's side upped their game in the second period and managed to stage a magnificent comeback. Having missed the target soon after the break, Ze Roberto opted to pass the next time an opportunity presented itself. Andre Lima controlled the ball from the former Bayern Munich man brilliantly and drilled an effort into the bottom corner, to restore parity in the 61st minute. The tension grew and a delicately poised game eventually fell the way of the Imortal Tricolor. After cutting in from the right, Para clipped a cross to the near post, where Marcelo Moreno rose and headed the ball into the top corner.
Gremio rise to second with the win and will automatically qualify for the Libertadores group stage with victory next weekend.
|Botafogo 3-0 Portuguesa
Botafogo made it six games without defeat as they cruised to a 3-0 triumph over Portuguesa at the Engenhao.
Fogao's recent form has seen them mount a late charge for a place in the Libertadores and they gained further ground with a brilliant display. Oswaldo de Oliveira looks to finally have found the solution to his side's lack of central strikers, in 18-year-old Bruno Mendes.
The former Guarani player latched onto Fellype Gabriel's deflected pass in the 12th minute and slotted a cool finish past Dida, who perhaps could have done better to keep the effort out. Having taken the lead, Botafogo eased off for the remainder of the half and took the advantage into the break.
An action-packed second-half was in stark contrast to the first period, and after Bruno Mendes had a perfectly legitimate goal ruled out for offside, Ananias came close to levelling the score with an intelligent lob.
Antonio Carlos then hit the bar at the other end, before any hopes of a Lusa fightback were extinguished when Marcelo Cordeiro was dismissed in the 65th minute for a needless second yellow card. Two minutes later, Fellype Gabriel scored with a wonderfully-improvised header and, although Andrezinho had a penalty saved by Dida, substitute Vitor Junior completed the scoring in stoppage time.
Botafogo now lay just five points behind Sao Paulo, but have just three games to overtake Ney Franco's side. Portuguesa, meanwhile, have been dragged closer to the relegation mire, having failed to win in seven fixtures.
|Best of the Rest
Neymar's Santos were stunned by relegated Atletico Goianiense, who bounced back from Bruno Rodrigo's opener to win 2-1. Ronaldinho was on target for Atletico Mineiro in their 1-1 draw with Vasco da Gama, but a point was not enough to stop the title from heading to Rio de Janeiro. Cruzeiro overcame Bahia 3-1 at the Independencia, though neither Figueirense nor Sport Recife could take full advantage as their game was tied at 1-1, condemning the former to relegation. Ponte Preta all but ensured another season in the top flight with a 1-0 win over Internacional, while Flamengo ended talk of relegation by taking all three points by the same score, at Nautico.
|Player of the Round
Having been key to his side's excellent form all season, it was no surprise that Fred proved to be the decisive factor as Fluminense were crowned champions. His 19 goals have propelled Flu to the stop of the standings, and made him the leading marksman in Brazil. Why he has not been selected for the national team with such a record remains a mystery, but such clinical finishing in front of goal will make it difficult for Mano Menezes to ignore the striker for much longer.