Ronaldo scored his sixth goal in seven matches Tuesday to help
Corinthians thrash Ituano 3-0 and secure a spot in the semifinals of the
Sao Paulo state championship.
In Rio de Janeiro, Flamengo defeated Americano 1-0 and Vasco beat Macae
by the same score.
With one round to go before the semifinals stage, Corinthians is second
in the 20-team standings with 38 points, three less than defending
champion Palmeiras, which drew Oeste 1-1 earlier Tuesday. Sao Paulo is
third and Portuguesa fourth. The top four clubs will advance.
Ronaldo, staging his third comeback from serious knee surgeries,
gathered a cross from defender Alessandro and delivered a right-footed
shot from near the penalty spot in the 27th minute.
Striker Jorge Henrique opened the scoring for the four-time national
champion with a header just two minutes into the match at Pacaembu
stadium, and midfielder Cristian added to Corinthians' first-half lead
with a well-struck free kick in the 41st.
The 32-year-old Ronaldo also had a goal disallowed in the 85th after he
was ruled offside.
Corinthians, which had won only one of its last four matches, played a
man up from the 79th when Ituano defender Ceara was ejected after
receiving two yellow cards.
Corinthians' rival Palmeiras missed a chance to clinch first place and
secure home ground advantage throughout the finals stage after drawing
Oeste 1-1 in Itapolis.
Palmeiras, which has led the traditional regional tournament by as many
as seven points, needs a home victory against Botafogo in Sunday's final
round to avoid being overtaken by Sao Paulo, which will host
Guaratingueta on Thursday at Morumbi stadium and can move to within two
points with a victory.
Also Thursday, 2006 and 2007 champion Santos will host Portuguesa in a
match it needs to win to keep alive any hopes of advancing to the
semifinals. Santos is in fifth place and trails Portuguesa by three
Guarani, the 1978 Brazilian champion, fell 2-1 to Mirassol in Campinas
to become dangerously close to relegation. Mirassol rallied from a
first-half deficit with a winner in the third and final minute of
second-half injury time. Guarani is last in the 20-team standings and
the bottom four will be relegated to the second division.
In the Rio Cup, the second stage of the Rio de Janeiro state
championship, defending Rio champion Flamengo edged Americano 1-0 with a
penalty kick converted by defender Juan in the 87th minute, a result
that nearly secured Brazil's most popular club a place in the semifinals.
Also Tuesday, Vasco -- which has already qualified for the next round --
beat Macae 1-0 at Maracana stadium with a goal by striker Rodrigo Pimpao
in the 13th. It was Vasco's seventh consecutive win in the Rio Cup.
On Thursday, Guanabara Cup champion Botafogo will face Madureira, while
Fluminense will host Boavista. The winners of each stage meet for the
Rio title. Botafogo will clinch the trophy automatically if it also wins
the Rio Cup.