March 11, 2012

SAO PAULO (AP) -- Ronaldinho scored a goal but was sent off in the first half of Flamengo's 2-0 win over Fluminense in the Rio Cup on Sunday.

In the Sao Paulo state tournament, Palmeiras thrashed Botafogo 6-2 with two goals by Argentine striker Hernan Barcos. The team moved to within a point of leader Corinthians.

Ronaldinho converted a 23rd-minute penalty, then was shown a red card in the 40th after he caught midfielder Wagner's foot in a hard challenge. The two-time FIFA Player of the Year received his first yellow card eight minutes into the match for a hard foul at Engenhao stadium.

"The referee had already told me he was going to send me off, he told me not to make any more fouls,'' Ronaldinho said as he left the field.

World Cup veteran Kleberson scored for Flamengo in the 25th minute as Brazil's most popular club held on despite Fluminense pressuring with its man advantage.

Ronaldinho, the team's captain, converted the penalty with a firm low shot into the right corner. It was his second goal in as many matches in the Rio Cup, the first stage of the Rio de Janeiro state championship.

Fluminense had several scoring opportunities after Ronaldinho was sent off, but goalkeeper Paulo Victor came up with several big saves to keep Flamengo ahead. Victor is replacing regular starter Felipe, who last weekend sustained head trauma during the match and left the field in am ambulance.

Fluminense was without some of its top starters because of its Copa Libertadores match on Wednesday, including striker Fred and former Chelsea playmaker Deco.

Because it won the Guanabara Cup, the first stage of Rio's state championship, Fluminense has already secured a chance to play for the overall state title against the winner of the Rio Cup.

Also Sunday, 2006 World Cup veteran midfielder Juninho scored a goal in Vasco's 3-0 routing of Madureira. Vasco rested several regular starters because it will also play in the Copa Libertadores later this week.

Botafogo of Rio de Janeiro was held by Bangu to a 1-1 draw in Moca Bonita on Saturday.

In the Sao Paulo state tournament, Barcos scored in the 55th minute with a penalty kick in second-half injury time to give Palmeiras a win at Botafogo, extending the team's unbeaten streak to 19 matches. One of Palmeiras' top signings this season, Barcos has scored seven goals in as many matches with the eight-time national champion.

Palmeiras opened the scoring with an own goal by Botafogo defender Marquinhos after a header by Chile midfielder Jorge Valdivia in the 23rd in Ribeirao Preto, and also got goals from striker Maikon Leite in the 36th, substitute striker Ricardo Bueno in the 81st and left back Juninho in the 90th.

Botafogo had Marquinhos sent off after a second yellow card in the 60th, and goalkeeper Juninho was shown a red card three minutes into second-half injury time for the foul that prompted the penalty, converted by Barcos, the former Liga de Quito star striker.

Palmeiras reached 29 points from 13 matches, one point less than Corinthians, which on Saturday was held by Guarani to a 1-1 home draw at the Pacaembu stadium. Corinthians played without many regular starters ahead of its Copa Libertadores match again Cruz Azul in Mexico on Wednesday.

Fourth-place Santos, also without regular starters because of the Copa Libertadores, lost 3-1 at Mogi Mirim.

Sao Paulo moved to third place in the state tournament with a 2-1 win over Portuguesa with goals by former Shakhtar Donetsk midfielder Jadson and former Brazil striker Luis Fabiano on Sunday.

The top eight teams will advance to the playoff round of the Sao Paulo championship.

The Brazilian football season does not follow the European calendar and starts at the beginning of the year with regional championships in the 26 states and the federal district. The Brazilian league will start in May and finish in December.

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