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Petkovic, Adriano score as Flamengo beats Nautico

GOALS from Serbian midfielder Dejan Petkovic and striker Adriano gave Flamengo a 2-0 win over Nautico yesterday and kept the popular club in contention for the Brazilian league title with three rounds remaining.

Flamengo moved to within two points of leader and defending champion Sao Paulo, which beat Vitoria 2-0 on Saturday to move to 62 points from 35 matches. Palmeiras, which led for most of the competition, slipped to third place after a disappointing 2-2 home draw with last-place Sport on Wednesday and is three points off the lead.

Petkovic opened the scoring for Flamengo at Aflitos stadium in Recife with a close-range shot in the 16th minute after Nautico goalkeeper Gledson failed to hold on to the ball inside the area.

Adriano added the second with a low shot from near the penalty spot after a breakaway just before half time, finding the open net after a cross by right back Leo Moura. It was the 19th goal for Adriano, the league's leading scorer.

It also was a third straight victory for Flamengo, which has lost only once in its last 15 matches. The five-time champion is aiming for its first Brazilian league title since 1992.

Sao Paulo, seeking its fourth straight title, maintained its advantage in the standings with goals by Jorge Wagner and Hugo at a packed Morumbi stadium, handing Vitoria its fifth straight loss.

Things nearly got out of control for the six-time champion in the first half, however, when teammates Andre Silva and Hugo got into a heated altercation and a shoving dispute over a missed pass. They had to be separated by teammates and each received a yellow card.

Palmeiras missed a chance to stay closer to rival Sao Paulo the draw with Sport, which was mathematically relegated to the second division with the result at Palestra Italia stadium in Sao Paulo.

Sport was 2-0 up until Palmeiras rallied with goals in the 75th and 80th minutes. Palmeiras' equalizer was controversial as Sport players complained the goal was scored after the referee had whistled for offside. Television replays showed the goal was valid, but it appeared the referee initially blew the whistle and later changed his mind.

Sport directors made an official complaint to the nation's sports tribunal asking authorities to annul the result.

Fourth-place Internacional moved to within six points of the lead with a 3-1 win over Santos yesterday. Argentine midfielder Andres D'Alessandro scored Internacional's third goal late in the match at Beira-Rio stadium in Porto Alegre.

Fifth-place Atletico Mineiro missed a chance to stay near the top after a 2-1 loss to Coritiba in Curitiba on Saturday, dropping six points back. Former Wolfsburg playmaker Marcelinho Paraiba scored Coritiba's winner at Couto Pereira stadium from the penalty spot in the 85th minute.

At Maracana stadium yesterday, former Lyon striker Fred scored his fifth goal in four league matches to give Fluminense a 2-1 win over Atletico Paranaense in front of more than 50,000 fans. The result kept alive Fluminense's 11-match unbeaten streak and left the club within two points of escaping relegation zone.

Ronaldo's Corinthians lost for the 10th time in this year's competition, going down 3-1 against Avai in Florianopolis and dropping to ninth in the 20-team standings. Corinthians played a man down the entire second half after Paraguayan defender Edgar Balbuena was dismissed just before halftime because of a hard sliding tackle.

Also yesterday, striker Val Baiano's hat trick gave Barueri a 3-0 win over Botafogo, while Goias beat Santo Andre 3-1 with two goals from veteran forward Fernandao.

Argentine striker German Herrera scored a stoppage-time equalizer in Gremio's 1-1 draw with sixth-place Cruzeiro at Mineirao stadium in Belo Horizonte on Saturday. Gremio finished the match with nine men. World Cup veteran left back Gilberto scored Cruzeiro's goal.


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