Internacional blew the chance to cement their place at the top of the table, while Grêmio’s reserves kept their title challenge alive.
If it wasn’t exciting already, it certainly is now. Six teams are still in with a realistic chance of winning this year’s Brazilian Serie A title, although only one of them – Grêmio, who fielded a reserve side against Paraná in anticipation of their Libertadores quarter final tonight – won last weekend. League leaders Internacional were beaten 2 – 1 by Chapecoense on Monday night and lost the top spot to São Paulo. The other four title contenders – Flamengo, São Paulo, Palmeiras, Atlético-MG – had tricky away matches and could only manage a draw their games. All in all, a perfect weekend for Grêmio.
Internacional tried everything against Chapecoense, even after they had a man sent off, but they were up against an inspired goalie; not only did Jandrei save a penalty from Leandro Damião in the fourth minute of injury time, but two minutes later, on the last kick of the game, he made an even better save with his foot to deny Damião again. The win lifted Chapecoense to 16th place, one spot above the relegation zone.
Grêmio have shown by their team selections that the Copa Libertadores and Brazilian Cup are more important for them than the league this year. Despite this, they remain in with a shout of winning the league. And once again in the league their coach Renato Gaucho fielded a reserve team. Their reserves are pretty nifty though and they didn’t have any trouble beating bottom club Paraná 2 – 0 and it really should have been more. They go into tonight’s Copa Libertadores quarter final first leg against Atlético Tucumán with moral high. For Paraná, a quick return to the Serie B looks inevitable.
São Paulo played a resurgent Santos at the Vila Belmiro stadium and had to settle for a 0-0 draw. They will be happy enough with that result though and it could have been worse for them if Santos’ new wonder kid Rodrgyo, a menace throughout, had scored when one on one with the goalie instead of shooting wide.
Palmeiras maintained their unbeaten run and managed to come from behind and drew 1-1 away to Bahia. Atlético-MG, meanwhile, closed the gap with the league leaders by one point to eight points thanks to an away draw with Cruzeiro. But it will feel like two points lost for Atlético, with Cruzeiro fielding a reserve side in that match, with their priority instead the match against Boca Juniors, at the Bombonera in the Copa Libertadores on Wednesday.
Both sets of supporters were annoyed with their teams after the clássico between Vasco and Flamengo. Vasco fans were unhappy that their team threw away a lead, that they were outplayed by ten men in the second half and that they remain in the relegation zone after a 1-1 draw. Flamengo fans, meanwhile, are annoyed that their team played so poorly in the first half and that after exiting the Copa Libertadores and Brazilian Cup, their title challenge in the league is faltering too. The match might be a derby on papaer but it was played at the Mané Garrincha stadium in Brasília, more than 1,000 kilometers away from Rio de Janeiro. Good atmosphere though, mind you.
Elsewhere, a Jadson-inspired Corinthians beat Sport 2 – 1 in São Paulo, which moved Corinthians up to 8th in the table and condemned Sport to their eighth consecutive away defeat. In the other matches Atlético-PR beat Fluminense, Botafogo got the better of América-MG and Ceará defeated Vitoria.
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