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Ronaldinho's Flamengo win Carioca state championship

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) -- Ronaldinho won his first title since the 2006 European Champions League with Barcelona when Flamengo beat Vasco da Gama 3-1 on penalties to lift the Carioca championship on Sunday.

Flamengo and Vasco drew a poor match 0-0 as Brazil's state championships wind down, deciders in the Paulista (Sao Paulo) and Gaucho (Rio Grande do Sul) also going to penalties.

"I came back to Brazil for this. After several years without winning titles, to win again in my country is marvellous," said Flamengo captain Ronaldinho, who missed his team's previous two matches through injury.

The Rio state title is the 31-year-old's second in Brazil after helping Gremio win the Gaucho in 1999 before his move to Paris St Germain at the start of a European career of more than 10 years that ended at AC Milan in January.

In the Gaucho decider in the southern city of Porto Alegre, South American champions Internacional beat Gremio 4-2 on penalties to earn the right to face their arch-rivals again in a grand two-leg final.

Inter, now coached by their former idol Falcao, went in front in the 23rd minute through Brazil striker Leandro Damiao, but they had Argentine holding midfielder Pablo Guinazu sent off in the 70th and Gremio central defender Junior Vicosa equalised with three minutes left.

In a Paulista semi-final, Palmeiras were in charge against Corinthians despite having defender Danilo sent off after 23 minutes for a violent foul and coach Luiz Felipe Scolari dismissed to the stands for protesting.

Leandro Amaro put home team Palmeiras ahead at the Pacaembu in the 53rd but Willian equalised 12 minutes later for Corinthians, who won 6-5 on penalties and will meet Santos in the final after they beat Sao Paulo 2-0 on Saturday.

The Brazilian championship starts May 21.

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