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The Horse with no Name⭐
Oct 27, 2003
The wilds of Kent
RIO DE JANEIRO, Dec 14 (Reuters) - Cruzeiro midfielder Alex scored five goals, including four first-half penalties, as the Brazilian champions thrashed Bahia 7-0 away on Sunday to condemn their opponents to second division football next year.

The championship's final weekend was marred by a pitch invasion in Porto Alegre, where former South American champions Gremio beat Corinthians 3-0 to complete a miraculous escape, and a brawl in the Sao Paulo-Flamengo match, which ended with six players sent off.

Bahia began the day bottom of the table but still with a chance of staying up.

Although all games involving relegation-threatened times were supposed to start at the same time, the Bahia game was delayed after the home team took the field wearing their an all-blue strip which clashed with Cruzeiro's.

Bahia reappeared in white with the advantage of kicking off later than their rivals, but it did them no good as they gave away four penalties in the first 37 minutes, all converted by Alex.

Alex, with his fifth, Felipe Mello and Mota completed the rout and a miserable championship for Bahia coach Edinho, who also had a brief spell in charge of local rivals Vitoria earlier in the championship but was sacked after less than one month.

Cruzeiro, who clinched the title two weeks ago, finished with 100 points from 46 games and 102 goals scored.

Fortaleza joined Bahia in Serie B after losing 2-0 at Ponte Preta, who had begun the day in the relegation zone.

After guaranteeing survival, Ponte players appealed to be paid outstanding wages.

"We want the directors to honour their promises and pay us what they owe so we have a more peaceful end of year," said midfielder Pia.


Gremio, the club where Brazil's 2002 World Cup coach Luiz Felipe Scolari made his name, had spent nearly half the championship in bottom place but survived by taking 13 points in their last five games.

Goals by George, Bruno and Anderson Lima completed their escape but the game was delayed for six minutes near the end after dozens of jubilant fans invaded the pitch.

More supporters ran on after the final whistle and took away the goal nets, damaged a mobile stretcher and fought with club security officials.

"The supporters deserve to go mad," said Gremio president Flavio Obino.

Sao Paulo and Flamengo were playing for nothing more than pride but their game degenerated in the last ten minutes as Jean (Sao Paulo) and Edilson (Flamengo) clashed and were sent off.

Sao Paulo finished with seven men after Gabriel, Diego Tardelli and Fabio Simplicio were sent off for fighting along with Flamengo's Henrique in an injury-time brawl.

The incident came ten days after Sao Paulo had three players sent off for brawling with Argentine opponents River Plate in a Copa Sudamericana tie.

Goias striker Dimba finished as the championship's topscorer with 31 goals after hitting the target in his side's 3-2 defeat at Atletico Mineiro.

Sao Caetano, who beat Internacional 5-0, and Coritiba, 2-0 winners over Criciuma, took Brazil's last two places in next year's South American Libertadores Cup.

Matt the Shrimp

aka Harry Potter
Oct 27, 2003
Lewisham, London
If only one could say for certainty that the league was finished... by all accounts, one of the relegated sides (Bahia) had a load of points they had won in various games deducted and handed to their opponents because they had fielded a player who hadn't been properly registered.

Something similar happened in 1999 when (I think) Fluminense were "relegated" (in that they were sent down) and, in protest, the clubs all withdrew from the official CBF league (Confederação Brasileira de Futebol) and set up the Copa João Havelange, which was an unofficial 108-team championship.  Needless to say, the CBF relented, Fluminense stayed up, and the league returned to some sense of normality.

However, given that Grêmio - one of the Brazilian "big 10" - have stayed up, there's unlikely to be the same sort of support swinging behind Bahia in order to keep them in the league, not least because I'm sure that the clubs and fans in the likes of Porto Alegre and São Paulo won't mind not making the 4-hour flight up to the North in order to play them...


Finally - well done to Cruzeiro (finders of Ronaldo, amongst other stars), a great title for a club that has come a long way in recent years.


P.S. For those interested (unlikely, but you never know), the "big 10" in Brazil are:

From Rio de Janeiro:
Flamengo ("Fla" or "Mengo" - the team I support, and probably supported by as many Brazilians as the rest of the big 9 put together. Play in the famous black & red hoops)

Fluminense ("Flu" - the Fla-Flu game, as it's known, is the big Carioca derby)
Vasco da Gama ("Vasco", finders of Romario and Edmundo - O Animal - amongst others)

From São Paulo
Corinthians (the working men's club - home to Socrates, amongst others)
Palmeiras (the middle class club; Corinthians v. Palmeiras is the big Paulista derby)
São Paulo (the rich club, but not as well loved as the others)
Santos (the port outside of São Paulo, most famous son being, of course, Pelé)

Grêmio (from Porto Alegre, the big town in the deep South, and of course home to Alemão... meaning "German" - Porto Alegre still publishes a daily newspaper in German)

Cruzeiro (Champions, and discoverers of Ronaldo)
Atletico Mineral (both teams hail from Belo Horizonte, which is in Minas Gerais, the great mining state in Brazil - hence the reference to "mineral" in A.M.'s title)