Friday, 29 July 2011

Brasileirão Petrobras - Week 12

Botafogo 2-1 Avaí
Atlético Goianiense 2-0 Cruzeiro
Grêmio 1-1 América Mineiro
Atlético Mineiro 1-0 Fluminense
Santos 4-5 Flamengo
Figueirense 0-1 Palmeiras
Coritiba 3-4 São Paulo
Vasco da Gama 1-1 Bahia
Ceará 2-1 Atlético Paranaense

With Internacional being in Germany for the Audi Cup, their clash with Corinthians from this round a couple of weeks ago was almost forgotten about as Botafogo and Avaí opened the rest of the round at the Engenhão. Avaí stunned the hosts when Dirceu put them ahead with just six minutes on the clock. Botafogo levelled just before the half hour when Maicosuel hammered home a cut back from Marcio Azevedo and local hero German Herrera won it seven minutes before the break when he headed home. After victory over the leaders on Sunday, Cruzeiro couldn't back up their recent good form when they fell to defeat at the Serra Dourada against Atlético-GO. Felipe put Atléico-GO ahead with just nine minutes on the clock but the home side left it until injury time at the end of the game when a second for Felipe wrapped things up. Grêmio remain in the lower reaches of the table when they had to come from behind to take a point from América-MG. Willian Rocha put América-MG ahead with seventeen minutes gone but Grêmio levelled on the hour through Ezequiel Miralles. The Argentinian strikers night though was to end in disappointment when he was sent off eleven minutes after his equalizing goal.

The champions defence of their title is as good as over after they fell to their sixth defeat of the season in Sete Lagoas against Atléico-MG. One goal was enough to win it for the home side and it came fifteen minutes from time through André. Fluminense will now be on a mission to rescue their season, with Libertadores football in 2012 an absolute minimum requirement. The game of the night was quite rightly at the Vila Belmiro where Santos and Flamengo split 9 goals in an absolute thriller. Two goals in the opening quarter of an hour from Borges put Santos in control and Neymar, after a special assist for the second goal, made it three with a special finish on his return from Brazil duty with just twenty six minutes on the watch you could think the game was done. The home side didn't expect to go into half time level, Ronaldinho Gáucho pulled a goal back after a Rafael mistake two minutes later and when Thiago Neves headed home a second for Flamengo four minutes later it was game on again. Santos though, should have restored their two goal lead three minutes before the break. Neymar was pulled down by Willians but Elano tried a "Cavadinha" and Felipe collected the ball easily. Flamengo went to the other end and Deivid coverted a Ronaldinho Gáucho corner a minute before the break to send the teams in level. Neymar restored the Santos lead six minutes after the break but the old master Ronaldinho Gáucho's cheeky free kick half way though the half levelled things again. Ronaldinho Gáucho won if for Flamengo when he put them ahead for the first time with nine minutes left when he completed a hat-trick, and his eighth of the season. Palmeiras for themselves back on track when they went to Florianópolis and came back with all three points from their trip to Figueirense. The goal when it came seven minutes from time was rather fortunate, a Marcos Assunção swung a free kick over and Wilson in the home side's goal tried to punch the ball away but only succeeded in hitting Maurício Ramos and the ball was in the back of the net, much to the joy of a rather large travelling Verdão support at the Orlando Scarpelli.

On a night of large scorelines, there was a seven goal thriller in the late game at the Couto Pereira as São Paulo ended Coritiba's recent good home run. Carlinhos Paraiba put São Paulo ahead with eighteen minutes gone and Juan doubled the lead five minutes later. Dagoberto made it three with half an hour gone, Coritiba had Davi sent off four minutes before the break and when Lucas Silva made it four nine minutes after the break it was a case of how many. The home side fought back, Rafinha pulled one back half way through the second half and when Bill grabbed a second sixteen minutes from time there was a slim hope. A second for Bill four minutes from time added to the tension and São Paulo had to hold on with ten men when recent signing Denílson was sent off in injury time. The victory meant the São Paulo reduced their deficit at the top of the table to three points. Vasco da Gama left it late at the São Januário as Bahia came within seconds of taking all three points. With six minutes gone Bahia took the lead when Reinaldo put the ball into an empty net after Vasco were caught on the counter attack. All looked lost for Vasco when Márcio Careca was sent off as the game went into injury time but a Bahia player tooked out his own goalkeeper as Juninho Pernambucano free kick was swung in. Bernardo headed it goal bound and Elton's faintest of touches ensured it nestled in the back of the net. Up at the Castelão, Ceará were another team to leave it late before claiming all three points against Atlético-PR. The visitors made a great start when Madson put them ahead with fifteen minutes on the clock. Ceará levelled with seventeen minutes to go after Renan Rocha allowed a Marcelo Nicácio shot to go under his body. Atlético-PR were reduced to ten men with nine minutes left when Gustavo Lazzaretti saw red and they were defeated when Marcelo Nicácio's header found the back of the net in injury time.

This weekend a full round takes place with Inter back from their jaunt to Germany which saw them lose to FC Barcelona on penalties but defeat Milan the same way to claim third place after both games finished 2-2.

Flamengo x Grêmio - LIVE on Premier Sports TVCruzeiro x Botafogo
Palmeiras x Atlético Mineiro
São Paulo x Vasco da Gama
Fluminense x Ceará
Internacional x Atlético Goianiense
Avaí x Corinthians - Coverage on Premier Sports TV
Atlético Paranaense x Santos
América Mineiro x Coritiba
Bahia x Fluminense

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Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Brasileirão Petrobras - Week 11

Avaí 1-3 Internacional
São Paulo 2-2 Atlético Goianiense
América Mineiro 0-0 Figueirense
Atlético Paranaense 2-1 Botafogo
Flamengo 1-1 Ceará
Corinthians 0-1 Cruzeiro
Fluminense 1-0 Palmeiras
Atlético Mineiro 1-2 Vasco da Gama
Bahia 0-0 Coritiba
Grêmio P-P Santos

The week started back on Thursday night as Internacional, off to Germany for the Audi Cup, went to the Recassada to take on Avaí. Willain put Avaí ahead from the spot deep in first half injury time but Andrezinho levelled for Inter half way through the second half. Three minutes later Leandro Damião put Inter ahead and Andre D'Alessandro wrapped things up in injury time. With the Premier Sports TV cameras at the Morumbi as São Paulo were left kicking themselves after a draw with Atlético-GO. Rhodolfo headed São Paulo ahead with just eight minutes gone and despite Rogério Ceni being a virtual spectator Bida levelled just before half time. Rivaldo restored and São Paulo lead eight minutes after the break and you expected them to kick on from there but Anselmo got Atlético-GO a point when another equaliser half way through the second half. Two promoted clubs met in Sete Lagoas and there were now goals between América-MG and Figueirense, the visitors had to hold on with ten men for just over a half when Wilson Pittoni was sent off two minutes before the break.

Atlético-PR picked up their first victory of the season when they defeated Botafogo at the Arena de Baixada. Santiago García put Atlético-PR ahead seven minutes before the break and his second fifteen minutes from time doubled the advantage. Alex pulled a goal back for Botafogo three minutes from time but they had Marcelo Mattos dismissed in injury time. The late Saturday game saw Flamengo held by Ceará in a game played at Macaé. Flamengo took the lead just after the half hour through Renato Abreu but they were pegged back ten minutes from time when Felipe Azevedo got his second goal since returning from the K-League. Sunday began with a huge shock as Corinthians fell to their first defeat of the season as Cruzeiro took all three points away from the Pacaembu. The only goal of the game came ten minutes after the break courtesy of Wallyson. Despite having Gilberto sent off with seventeen minutes left Cruzeiro held on to give then four wins from their last five games as they continue to climb the table.

The Premier Sports TV cameras were in Volta Redonda on Sunday night as Fluminense and Palmeiras locked horns. With the defeat for Corinthians it was a chance for Palmeiras to close the gap but they were foiled by the champions as hey picked up their fifth win of the season. The only goal of the game came sixteen minutes from time from Marquinho. No goals in Bahia as Coritiba picked up their first point on the road this season. Despite being no goals, there were two red cards. Coritiba's Leandro Donizete was sent off half way through the second half and he was followed by Jóbson three minutes from time to even things up on the pitch. Vasco da Gama's great season continued as they picked up all three points in Ipatinga against Atlético-MG. Diego Souza put Vasco ahead with seventeen minutes gone but Magno Alves levelled five minutes before the break. Atlético-MG had Leonardo Silva sent off three minutes from time and second for Diego Souza a minute later won it for the visitors.

The game between Grêmio and Santos was postponed and rescheduled for October 5.

The first midweek round of the season takes place this week and they line up like this

Botafogo x Avaí
Grêmio x América Mineiro
Atléico Mineiro x Fluminense
Atlético Goianiense x Cruzeiro
Santos x Flamengo
Figueirense x Palmeiras
Coritiba x São Paulo
Vasco da Gama x Bahia
Ceará x Atlético Paranaense

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Friday, 22 July 2011

Brasileirão Petrobras - Week 10

Coritiba 3-1 Fluminense
Atlético Goianiense 0-1 Avaí
Vasco da Gama 2-1 Atlético Paranaense
Santos 2-1 Atlético Mineiro
Internacional 0-3 São Paulo
Ceará 4-0 Américo Mineiro
Cruzeiro 2-1 Bahia
Botafogo 0-2 Corinthians
Figueirense 0-0 Grêmio
Palmeiras 0-0 Flamengo

With the Premier Sports TV cameras at the Estádio Couto Pereira for the first time the Viewers were treated to continued their good home form with a victory over the Champions. Marcos Aurélio put Coritiba ahead with fifteen minutes gone and Pereira doubled the lead ten minutes later. Six minutes after the break Bill made it three to wrap up the points, Matheus Carvalho pulled a goal back for Fluminense twelve minutes from time but it was mere consolation. Avaí counfounded the people, me included, who thought they wouldn't win a game all season by shocking the Serra Dourada and claiming all three points at Atlético-GO. William got the only goal of the game with ten minutes gone but they had to hold on with ten men after Welton Felipe saw red with ten minutes to go. Vasco remain on the edge of the top 4 after coming from behind to defeat win less Atlético-PR at the São Januário. The visitors took the lead with ten minutes gone through former Flamengo player Kléberson but Alecsandro levelled deep into first half injury time for his first Série A goal for the club since his arrival from Internacional. Just like buses, two come along at one when Alecsandro got the winner twenty minutes from time.

On Sunday, Santos got their rocky start to the Série A season back on track when they overcame Atlético-MG at the Vila. Danilo put Santos ahead half way through the first half but Jhonata Obina levelled three minutes later. Santos got the winner four minutes before the break when Borges converted from the penalty spot. With Mílton Cruz still in temporary charge, São Paulo came away from Internacional with all three points in front of the Premier Sports cameras. Casimiro put São Paulo ahead with twenty minutes on the clock and Fernandinho doubled the lead five minutes before the break. Carlinhos Paraiba wrapped things up with a third in injury time. Ceará got their biggest win back in the top flight as they brushed América-MG aside at the Castelão. Fabrício put Ceará ahead just after the half time and Washington doubled the lead three minutes before the break. A second for Washington half way through the second half wrapped the points up and Felipe Azevedo put the icing on the cake eight minutes from time. Cruzeiro made it four wins out of five under Joel Santana when they accounted for Bahia in front of 6,666 fans in Sete Lagoas. Wallyson put Cruzeiro ahead with just four minutes on the clock bu Jóbson levelled for Bahia ten minutes later. A second for Wallyson seven minutes after the break won it for Cruzeiro.

The early Sunday games were moved to Wednesday night due to Brazil's match in the Copa América. At the Engenhão, Corinthians kept their unbeaten start to the season when the claimed all three points at Botafogo. Liédson's fifth goal of the season just before half time put Corinthians ahead and the sealed the points deep in second half injury time when Paulinho got the second. The remaining two games of the round finished scoreless, in Florianópolis there was dead lock between a travel weary Grêmio and Figueirense while the big game of the week at the Pacaembu between Palmeiras and Flamengo completely failed to live up to expectations.

This week in the Brasileirão actually saw the round begin last night with the Avaí x Internacional game but the rest take place over the weekend. We'll wrap it all up on Monday

Avaí x Internacional
São Paulo x Atlético Goianiense - Coverage on Premier Sports TV
Atlético Paranaense x Botafogo
América Mineiro x Figueirense
Flamengo x Ceará
Corinthians x Cruzeiro
Fluminense x Palmeiras - Coverage on Premier Sports TV
Atlético Mineiro x Vasco da Gama
Bahia x Coritiba
Grêmio x Santos

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Copa América semi-finals - the 'Guays have it

After the unpredictable quarter-finals, something like normality was restored in the semis where the favourite in both games progressed. That, however, only tells half the story. Let's review the action.

Peru 0-2 Uruguay

Luis Suarez was again Uruguay's hero in a major knock-out match, but this time with his feet. He bagged both goals early in the second half before any chance of a Peruvian fightback were dashed by a red card for Juan Vargas. His first came eight minutes after the break following a long range speculator from Diego Forlan which Raul Fernandez couldn't hold. Suarez reacted quickest to it, but still had work to do from a very tight angle to stick it in the back of the net. A couple of minutes later and a neat ball over the top caught the Peru centre backs napping and Suarez raced through, took it round the advancing Fernandez and rolled it in from the edge of the box, absolutely dead weight. An elbow from Vargas on Sebastian Coates was obvious to everybody, especially the referee who wasn't above three yards away, and he was on his way. Uruguay remain on course for a record 15th Copa, but Peru have won a lot of friends on their path through the competition.

Paraguay 0-0 Venezuela (Paraguay win 5-4 on penalties)

Having seen off Brazil by virtue of penalty kicks, Paraguay had to resort to them once again to beat Venezuela. The Vinotinto had much the better of the game during the 120 minutes, especially after the extra time dismissal of Joanthan Santana. They hit the frame of the goal three times in total and had an Oswaldo Vizcarrondo header in the back of the net, only for a pretty harsh offside call to bring play back. Two players were in offside positions, but far enough away to be deemed inactive. Substitute Miku and skipper Juan Arango both saw free-kicks come back off the woodwork in stoppage time at the end of the 90 minutes as Paraguay seemed content to hang on. When Santana got a second caution late in the first period of extra time, all attacking intent left Paraguay as they entrusted the exceptional Justo Villar to save them in the shoot-out.
Nestor Ortigoza was up first for Paraguay and put away an excellent penalty, replied to in kind by Giancarlos Maldonado. Two more top drawer penalties followed from Lucas Barrios and José Grandanos. Cristian Riveros put Paraguay back on top, again in the top corner, before a weak effort from Paulo de Silva was easily saved by Villar. Osvaldo Martinez made the advantage count by smashing his penalty in off the underside of the bar and though Pablo Zeballos scored his, Dario Veron knew his spot kick could win it. He put his foot right through it to send Paraguay to their first final in 32 years.
It didn't end there though as the mother and father of all scraps broke out, involving players and staff from both sides that took some time for police and security to get under control. Venezuela coach Cesar Farias blamed Paraguayan provocation and organisers clearly agreed as Paraguay coach Gerardo Martino was hit with a two-match touchline ban for his part in the melée and will sit out the final.

So Peru and Venezuela play-off for third place - always entertaining games these - in La Plata on Saturday July 23 at 20:00 BST. Few people thought either would get this far and it is the furthest Venezuela have ever gone, but they can be considered unlucky not to have been contesting the final. They have improved out of sight over the last few years. Peru have defied everybody, not least Claudio Pizarro and Jefferson Farfán, in getting to the semis. It should be a cracker. We fancy Venezuela.
24 hours later at the Monumental, Paraguay and Uruguay play the decider. Clever money says Uruguay, but Paraguay are made of stern stuff and have one of the players of the tournament in their skipper and inspirational goalkeeper Justo Villar. You get the feeling that if Uruguay are going to win it, they'll have to do it in normal time. And if it goes to penalties, bet against Paraguay at your peril.

Monday, 18 July 2011

Copa América quarter-finals - the favourites fall

The favourites went tumbling out of the Copa America at the quater-final stage in a dramatic weekend that fully justified CONMEBOL's decision to adopt extra-time as three of the games went into the extra half hour. With some unexpected sides in the last four, the competition is open wider than the mouth of the Amazon. Let's have a look and see how it panned out.

Colombia 0-2 Peru

No Pizarro, no Farfán, no chance. Wasn't that the script for Peru? Nobody seems to have told them that, though they were indebted here to Radamel Falcao whose shanked penalty saw the sides go to 90 minutes goalless. Once there, a hopeful punt into the box was flapped at by Luis Enrique Martinez who came flying out of his net and wiped out a team-mate in the act of palming the ball to Carlos Lobaton. He didn't need a second invitation and lashed it past the prone goalkeeper and through a crowd scene to give Peru a surprise lead. A poor clearance from Martinez in the second period of extra time was swooped on by Paolo Guerrero. He and Juan Vargas were two-o two against what remained of the defence and Guerrero is too good in those situ. He beat one man and drew in the other before squaring to Vargas who smashed it in from the edge of the box.

Argentina 1-1 Uruguay (Uruguay win 5-4 on penalties)

Early goals in Santa Fe gave everybody hope that we were in for a thriller as two of the pre-tournament favourites went head-to-head. The Argentine defence allowed Diego Perez to sneak in unnoticed as a long-range free-kick was floated into the box. The knock-down found Perez at the back post and he nudged it over the line from about a foot. The defence continued to take chances, but Argentina also looked sharp on the counter and that's how they got back level. A piece of brilliance from Lionel Messi set up Gonzalo Higuain for a flick header. But despite all that attacking talent, neither side could find another goal for the remaining 77 minutes of normal time or the additional half hour and to penalties it went even though both sides had the ball in the net once.
Messi stroked his home to put Argentina ahead in the tie for the first time; Diego Forlan responded in kind. Nicolas Burdisso and Luis Suarez exchanged successful kicks before Carlos Tevez put his too near Fernando Muslera who saved. Andrés Scotti made Muslera's heroics count and heaped the pressure on the tournament hosts. Muslera very nearly saved Javier Pastore's effort, but it squirmed in under his body. Mauricio Victorino converted his leaving one more penalty to send Uruguay through even though Higuain blasted his in off the bar. Muslera couldn't watch as Martin Caceres lined it up, but you wouldn't know the pressure was on as he hit it perfectly, right into the top corner. No chance for Sergio Romero and Uruguay were through.

Brazil 0-0 Paraguay (Paraguay win 2-0 on penalties)

Let's be clear about one thing: penalties are not a lottery. There is an art to the science of converting spot kicks. Look at the Germans in Euro 96. When they beat England in the semi-finals, each penalty struck the inside of the side netting, beyond the reach of any keeper whether he guesses right or not. Brazil, it seems, have much to learn about it.
Before all that came a tense and at times fractious game, livened by a 22-man rumble which ended with Lucas Leiva and Antolín Alcaraz getting their marching orders. Brazil hammered on the Paraguayan goal throughout, but found Justo Villar in inspired form while at the other end, the Paraguayan front-line - not exactly blessed with blistering pace - made the Brazilian rearguard look slow and ponderous.
With extra time winding down and penalties inevitable, Mano Menezes sent on Elano, his number one penalty taker and it was he who stepped up for the first kick which he then proceeded to launch into a near-earth orbit. Paraguay's first was also missed, Edgar Barreto dragging it wide, and Brazil's second, from Thiago Silva, was saved by Villar before Marcelo Estigarribia finally put one away, blazed down the middle. Another miss for Brazil, André Santos taking the Elano method, was followed by a second for Paraguay from Cristian Riveros leaving Fred needing to score to keep Brazil in it. He shanked it well wide, nearer corner flag than goal, and Paraguay were through. An awful, awful penalty from Fred to cap a dreadful attempt at a shoot-out as the holders followed the hosts out of the competition.

Chile 1-2 Venezuela

Finally, a game settled in 90 minutes, but again the favourites bow out. Having seen Argentina and Brazil go out, Chile could have been forgiven for thinking they could kick on and win this thing, but Venezuela have been improving steadily under everybody's radar. Half an hour in, Oswaldo Vizcarrondo got across the defence to flick a header inside the near post from a set piece, but when the prolific Humberto Suazo spun on a dime and lashed in a shot into the roof of the net, it was still Chile that looked most likely. Ten minutes from time, though, and another set piece caused panic in the Chilean defence and worked it's way through to goalkeeper Claudio Bravo who spilled it at the feet of Gabriel Cíchero.

So the semi-finals have a refreshing, if unusual look to them.

It's Peru v Uruguay on Wednesday (1:45am BST) in La Plata and it's Paraguay v Venezuela 24 hours later in Mendoza. Place your bets and prepare to lose your shirt.

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Brasileirão Petrobras - Week 12 Catch Up

Corinthians 1-0 Internacional

With Internacional carting off to Germany for the Audi Cup in Munich on 26/27 July they travelled to the Pacaembu to take on league leaders Corinthians. Corinthians went for the throat from the off but were met by a stubborn Inter side who seemed to be happy to leave São Paulo with a point in the bag. Inter were finally broken down fourteen minutes from time when a Willian shot beat Muriel at the far post to get his fifth goal of the season. The victory doubled Corinthians advatage over Flamengo at the top of the table and kept their unbeaten start to the season intact.

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Thursday, 14 July 2011

Copa América 2011 - Matchday 3 Round Up

Group A

Colombia 2-0 Bolivia
Argentina 3-0 Costa Rica

Colombia wrapped up top spot in Group A when they were first up against Bolivia in Santa on Sunday. Radamel Falcao put Colombia ahead with fifteen minutes gone when he sprung the Bolivian offside trap to latch onto a Dayro Moreno pass and beat Carlos Arias at the far post. The prolific Porto striker got his and Colombia's second from the spot on the half hour after Santos Amador bought Pablo Armero down with referee Francisco Chacon had no hesitation in pointing to the spot. The following night in Cordoba, Argentina knew it was win at all costs to guarantee a spot in the last eight. After dominating the first half the Albiceleste took the lead in injury time at the end of the first half. Costa Rica goalkeeper Leonel Moreira spilled a shot and Sergio Agüero was first to react to settle the crowds nerve. Lionel Messi came to the party in the second half, his pass set up Agüero to get his second eight minutes after the break and eleven minutes later another superb Messi pass put Ángel di María in to slam home the third and secure second spot in the group.

Group C

Chile 1-0 Peru
Uruguay 1-0 Mexico

The set up of the competition meant that Group C was completed before Group B and Chile wrapped up top spot after an injury time goal gave them victory over Peru. The big flash point came just after the hour when Brazilian referee Salvio Spinola Fagundes Filho dismissed Jean Beausejour of Chile and Giancarlo Carmona after they clashed off the ball. The goal came when Peru goalkeeper Saloman Libman flapped at a corner and the ball hit the unfortunate Peru substitute Andre Carillo and the ball rolled over the line but Peru were still to make the last eight. Uruguay were another team who needed a victory to secure their place in the last 8 and they just about managed to see off the understrength Mexico side in La Plata. Uruguay took the lead with fifteen minutes gone when Mexico goalkeeper Luis Michel fumbled a shot and Álvaro Pereira was on hand to stab the ball home. Diego Forlán should have made it two before the break but hit the post when it was easier to his the back of the net. Mexico thought they had grabbed a second half equalizer through Rafal Marquez Lugo but they were denied by the linesman's offside call.

Group B

Paraguay 3-3 Venezuela
Brazil 4-2 Ecuador

The group of few goals, ended up being the group of many goal as both Matchday 3 games saw a total of 12 goals between them. First up in Salta were Paraguay and Venezuela where a great comeback from Venezuela capped a remarkable match. Venezuela took the lead with just five minutes on the clock when Saloman Rondón beat Justo villar from the edge of the area. Paraguay levelled with 33 mintues gone, pressure told and Antolin Alcáraz fired home after a right old schemozzle in the penalty area. Paraguay went ahead just after the hour and from another set piece Lucas Barrios was on hand to tap home. When Cristian Riveros headed home a Aureliano Torres free kick with four minutes to go you thought that was game set and match. Someone forget to tell Venezuela, in the last minute a Nicolas Fedor shot was deflected past Justo Villar and deep into injury time goalkeeper Renny Vega climbed highest at a corner and Grenddy Perozo was unmarked at the back post to level matters and send both teams through. Last up in Córdoba saw Brazil make hard work of winning Group B and getting into the last eight. Alexander Pato put Brazil ahead when he nodded home an Andre Santos cross just before the half hour. It took Ecuador only seven minutes to level, Cristian Benítez set up Felipe Caicedo and his short squirmed under Júlio César and into the net. Four minutes after the break Brazil were back in front in a move off the Santos training ground. Paulo Henrique Ganso with the pass and Neymar with the finish. Ecuador struck back again on the hour, Caicedo turning on the edge of the area to pick up his second of the game. The teams were level for less than a minutes, Ecuador goalkeeper Marcelo Elizaga spilled a Ganso shot and Alexander Pato was quickest to react and bundle the ball home. Eighteen minutes from time Brazil wrapped things up, Maicon got down the right hand wing and his cross found Neymar unmarked and he slotted home to pick up his second of the game.

The competition moves into the knockout stages from Saturday, with a new format from this tournament which sees extra time being played instead of ties going straight to penalties. They line up like this

Colombia v Peru - Saturday 2000, Córdoba
Argentina v Uruguay - Saturday 2315, Santa
Brazil v Paraguay - Sunday 2000, La Plata
Chile v Venezuela - Sunday 2315, San Juan

Monday, 11 July 2011

Copa América 2011 - Matchday 2 Round Up

Group A

Argentina 0-0 Colombia
Bolivia 0-2 Costa Rica

A nations nerves will be on tenterhooks going into Matchday 3 in the Copa América after Colombia were most unfortunate not to take all three points from their encounter with the host in Santa Fé. The Albiceleste were forced to repel wave after wave of Colombian attacks while they could hardly must a decent chance at the other end to break the deadlock. In the other game, a young Costa Rica side were full value for their 2-0 victory over a poor Bolivia side in Jujuy. Josue Martínez put Costa Rica ahead on the hour when he slid the ball past Carlos Arias in the Bolivia goal. Arias then came to the rescue of Bolivia when he saved a penalty after Ronald Riveiro was sent off for deliberate hand ball. Bolivia were reduced to 9 five minutes later when Walter Flores was sent off for a poor challenge. Costa Rica wrapped things up eleven minutes from time when man of the match Joel Campbell added a second as they hit Bolivia on the break. To be honest, Costa Rica were unlucky to only win two nil, after twice hitting the woodwork from free kicks in the second half.

Group B

Brazil 2-2 Paraguay
Venezuela 1-0 Ecuador

More trouble for Mano Menezes as his star studded Brazil side needed a late equaliser from veteran striker Fred to rescue a point against Paraguay in Córdoba on Saturday afternoon. It was all going well for Brazil when Jádson put them ahead six minutes before the break but they were stunned when Roque Santa Cruz levelled for Paraguay ten minutes after the break. It got worse half way through the second half as Santa Cruz turned provider to set up Nelso Haedo-Valdéz to put Paraguay ahead and in dream land until Fred came to spoil the party at the end of the game. Venezuela are now in the box seat to take top spot in the group after they defeated Ecuador in Salta. The goal when it came sixteen minutes after the break was well worth waiting for. Cesar González smashing the ball home from 25 yards with power that left Marcelo Elizaga in the Ecuador goal motionless.

Group C

Uruguay 1-1 Chile
Peru 1-0 Mexico

Peru are in a good position to make the last eight when then overcame invitees Mexico in Mendoza on Saturday. One goal was enough to split the teams and it came seven minutes from time when Paolo Guerrero was left unmarked at the back post and he slotted home the pass from Michael Guevara to leave the joint top of the group with Chile, their final opponents in Matchday 3. Uruguay's shocking recent record in the group stages of this competition continued when they were held by Chile in Mendoza on Friday. Álvaro Pereira put Uruguay ahead nine minutes after the break after good work by Luis Suárez in the build up. They were pegged back nine minutes later when Alexis Sánchez beat Fernando Mulsera but Uruguay had the young goalkeeper to thank when he produced the save of the night from Luis Jíminez to keep them in the competition.

Brasileirão Petrobras - Week 9

São Paulo 2-1 Cruzeiro
Vasco da Gama 2-0 Internacional
Atlético Paranaense 0-0 Avaí
Fluminense 0-1 Flamengo
Grêmio 2-0 Coritiba
Atlético Goianiense 0-1 Corinthians
Bahia 1-1 Botafogo
Atlético Mineiro 2-0 América Mineiro
Figueirense 1-1 Ceará
Palmeiras 3-0 Santos

With the Premier Sports TV cameras at the Morumbi, São Paulo got back on track under caretaker Mílton Cruz as Joel Santana suffered his first defeat as Cruzeiro manager. Dagoberto put São Paulo ahead with twenty minutes gone when he tapped the ball into an empty net after good work by Rivaldo in the build up. The doubled the lead a minute after the break, Rivaldo again the creator when he set up Marlos to power home the second. Cruzeiro pulled a goal back nineteen minutes from time when Wallyson arrived at the back post to tap home but São Paull held on to break their three game losing run. Vasco da Gama were another side to get back on track after back to back defeats when they overcame Internacional at the São Januário. Éder Luís put Vasco ahead after he was first to react after a super save by Inter goalkeeper Muriel. They doubled the lead eight minutes from time after a Juninho Pernambucano free kick caused chaos in the area and Dedé headed home to lift Vasco a point behind Inter. The late Saturday game saw the bottom two meet at the Arena de Baixada and it was the visitors Avaí who were more happy to take a point back to Florianópolis. Atlético-PR remain rooted to the bottom of the table and it's looking like both sides are in for a season long battle against the drop.

The Premier Sports TV cameras were at the big game on Sunday which saw Fluminense and Flamengo clash in the Fla-Flu at the Engenhão. One goal separated that sides and it came in injury time at the end of the first half, a cross from Thiago Neves found Willians unmarked at the back post and he headed the ball past Diego Cavalieri to leave Flamengo looking like serious title challengers this year. Coritiba have yet to pick up a point on the road this season and their dismal away form continued as they went down 2-0 at Grêmio. Former Arsenal and Panathanaikos midfielder, Gilberto Silva, headed the Tricolor ahead with 63 minutes gone and seven minutes later André Lima wrapped up the points seven minutes later as Coritiba were caught on the counter attack. When Corinthians lost at the Serra Dourada last season against Atlético-GO it was like a Jenson Button mechanic putting a front right tyre on, the wheels fell off from that point in. Well this time, the took all three points when Willian sprung the offside trap to latch onto a Danilo pass to round keeper Marcio and slot home into an empty net. Botafogo slipped back in the title race when they were held to a draw at Bahia. The Alvinegro took the lead with half an hour gone when Elkeson's free kick went right into the top corner of Marcelo Lomba's net. Botafogo were undone twelve minutes from time when Fahel's header earned Bahia a point.

It was also derby day in Sete Lagoas as Atlético-MG and América-MG went head to head at the Arena do Jacare. Atléico-MG took the lead with thirty four minutes gone when Jhonata Obina got his first goal for the club with a piledriver from the left hand edge of the penalty area. Atlético-MG wrapped the points up twenty minutes from time, Jhonata Obina turning proider for substitue Neto Berola to get his second of the season. Figueirense came from behind to claim a point at home to Ceará. The visitors were ahead inside three minutes when Washington fired home from the edge of the D. The home side levelled just after the hour, Diego was unable to handle a shot from substitute Reinaldo and Maicon was first to the ball to bundle it home. At the Arena Barueri, the third big derby of the week saw Palmieras blow away an under strength Santos with a stunning first half display. After his recent arrival from Sanatos, Maikon Leite opened the scoring for the Big Green with twenty one minutes gone when he spring the offside trap to round Rafael and fire home. Palmeiras doubled the lead on the half hour when Maurício Ramos rose highest to head home a Marcos Assunção corner and Patrik wrapped things up on the stroke of half time when he fired home from the edge of the box. The only downside for Palmieras was the absence of Kléber, who continues to be linked with a move to Flamengo.

Goal of the week: It has to be Elkeson's effort for Botafogo at Ceará.

Bugbear of the week: Time for all the players in the league to get a new celebration, the current wobble one is wearing thin on my patience.

Coming up in Week 10....

Vasco da Gama x Atlético Paranaense
Coritiba x Fluminense - coverage on Premier Sports TV
Atlético Goinaniense x Avaí
Santos x Atlético Mineiro
Palmeiras x Flamengo
Botafogo x Corinthians - coverage on Premier Sports TV
Ceará x América Mineiro
Figueirense x Grêmio
Internacional x São Paulo
Cruzeiro x Bahia

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Friday, 8 July 2011

Brasileirão Petrobras - Week 8

Cruzeiro 2-0 Grêmio
Avaí 2-2 Bahia
Internacional 1-0 Atlético Paranaense
Ceará 3-0 Atlético Mineiro
Flamengo 1-0 São Paulo
Corinthians 2-1 Vasco da Gama
Botafogo 1-1 Atlético Goianiense
Coritiba 3-0 Figueirense
América Mineiro 1-1 Palmeiras
Santos P-P Fluminense

Cruzeiro made it three wins in a row since the arrival of Joel Santana after they defeated Grêmio. Argentinian Walter Montillo volleyed Cruzeiro ahead with twenty six minutes gone after being left unmarked at the back post. The second came nine minutes after the break, Fábio Rochemback's mistake gave possession to Wallyson and he laid it back for Montillo to get his second of the game. Avaí picked up their third point of the season after coming from behind to claim a point against Bahia. Avaí took the lead with nineteen minutes gone after Rafael Coelho scrambled the ball home. Six minutes later the visitors were ahead, first Júnior Pipoca slid home to score into an empty net and Paulo Miranda headed Bahia ahead after some poor marking. Avaí levelled twelve minutes after the break, Júnior Pipoca' header was stopped by Marcelo Lomba but Gustavo Bastos pounced to score from the rebound. Internacional made it three wins in a row as Atlético-PR were left firmly at the bottom of the table. The only goal came sixteen minutes from time when Oscar met a Leandro Damião cross to put the ball past Renan Rocha in the Atlético-PR goal and leave them still looking for that first win of the season.

Ceará took the lead inside two minutes at the Castelão when Atlético-MG keeper Giovanni fumbled and Marcelo Nicácio was first to react to put the home side ahead. Ceará doubled the lead twelve minutes from time when defender Boiadeiro arrived unmarked to slot home and put the icing on the cake five minutes later when Osvaldo got by some poor defending to make it three. At the Engenhão, arguably the game of the round as Flamengo and São Paulo met in a clash of the titans. Despite Flamengo dominated proceedings the couldn't find a way paast Rogério Ceni until nineteen minutes from time. Thiago Neves stepped over a cross from Ronaldo Angelim and substitute Dario Botinelli got this third of the season. It was São Paulo's third straight defeat and bought to an end the reign of Paulo César Carpegiani as head coach. At the Pacaembu, leaders Vasco da Gama extended their lead at the top of the table after coming from behind to defeat Vasco da Gama. The visitors took the lead with just two minutes gone when Juninho Pernambucano scored with a free kick from fully 35 metres out. It was a reminder that the 36 year old Vasco captain still has a lot to offer to Vasco. Corinthians were level twenty minutes later when Ralf's shot from the edge of the area squeezed under Vasco keeper Fernando Prass. The winner came three minutes before the break when Paulinho got the ball on the edge of the area, beat a couple of players and put his shot beyond Prass. The result gives Corinthians a clear lead at the top of the table with a game in hand.

In the Thursday games, the opener finished all square at the Engenhão between Botafogo and Atlético-GO. The home side took the lead with just five minutes gone when German Herrera's sharp turn and shot in the area put the Alvinegro ahead. Ten minutes later Atlético-GO were level, Gilson did well to keep the ball in play and his cross saw Anselmo rise above the Botafogo defenders to give Atlético an equaliser and ultimately a point. Coritiba are finally beginning to find their feet back in the top flight after they overcame fellow promoted side Figueirense. All the goals came in the last fifteen minutes of the match, first Emerson headed Coritiba ahead and then Léo Gago made it two as the game went into injury time with a sweet left foot volley from the edge of the D. Substitute Anderson Aquino made it three a minute later after Everton Costa found him unmarked in the box. The result was probably a little hard on Figueirense, who did not deserve to lose by that margin. The final game was in Sete Lagoas as Palmeiras again lost ground at the top of the table after being held to a draw by América-MG. The home side struck twenty minutes into the second half when a quick break found the Palmeiras defence wanting and Alessandro beat Deola in the Palmeiras goal. Palmieras levelled ten minutes later, after an attempted América-MG clearance from a free kick hit the unaware Patrik and Maurício Ramos was on hand to level matters.

The game between Santos and Fluminense was called off due to international call ups.

Back to weekend action and Round 9 of the Brasileirão and it doesn't come any bigger than the 379th Fla-Flu at the Engenhão on Sunday. They line up like this

São Paulo x Cruzeiro - LIVE on Premier Sports TVVasco da Game x Internacional
Atlético Paranaense x Avaí
Fluminense x Flamengo - Coverage on Premier Sports TV
Grêmio x Coritiba
Atlético Goianiense x Corinthians
Bahia x Botafogo
Palmeiras x Santos
Atlético Mineiro x América Mineiro
Figueirense x Ceará

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Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Copa América 2011 - Matchday 2 Previews

Matchday 2 gets underway in the Copa América tonight as the teams look to take a step towards the last eight of the competition.

Group A

Bolivia v Costa Rica - Thursday 2315BST
Argentina v Colombia - Thursday 0145BST

Bolivia will be heartened by the point they picked up against the hosts in La Plata last Friday night and will be looking to register a victory against invited side Costa Rica in Jujuy. Edvaldo Rojas will be key to any Bolivian success with his partnership with Marcelo Martins up front. Costa Rica are without their big European stars for this tournament but will be looking to build on an encouraging performance against Colombia in match day 1. Colombia go into Matchday 2 knowing that a draw will be a decent result and put them with one foot into the last eight but a victory will secure their place in the knock out stages. All the pressure will be on Argentina in Santa Fé, one with a large home support on their back and needing a victory to get themselves back on track. Sergio Agüero rescued the Albiceleste last Friday but will his heroics be enough to get him a place in the run on side. Carloe Tévez on his return to the national colours definitely has other things on his mind with his desire to get away from Manchester City while Real Madrid man Gonzalo Higuaín didn't even figure on Friday given the strength of the forward line.

Group B

Brazil v Paraguay - Saturday 2000BST
Venezuela v Ecuador - Saturday 2230BST

Everything to play for in Group B after a couple of scoreless encounters last weekend that didn't really set the competition alive. Brazil are first back in to action as they face their toughest Group opponents on paper in Paraguay. Many pundits in Brazil were scathing of the tactics of Mano Menezes in their opening encounter and the Brazilian public will not accept a second draw from the Seleção. Paraguay had the better of their encounter with Ecuador at the weekend but Roque Santa Cruz looked like a player who hadn't had a lot of game time recently and they will be relying on him coming to the party. Venezuela would have been boosted by their point against Brazil at the weekend and victory here could give them a great chance of making the knockout stages and equalling their best ever performance in the tournament. Ecuador have talented players in the shape of Antonio Valencia and former Birmingham man Christian Benítez but will be hoping Felipe Caicedo can reproduce some of his Primera Liga form.

Group C

Peru v Mexico - Friday 2315BST
Uruguay v Chile - Saturday 0145BST

Mexico, despite a weakened team, gave a good account of themselves against Chile in Matchday 1 but after taking the lead in their game, La Roja only got back into the game thanks to some poor defending at set pieces. Peru would also be happy with their point against Uruguay in Matchday 1 but would surely be targeting this game as a must win if they are to make the knockout stages. Peru tried to play on the break against Uruguay the other night but need to take control against this Mexico side if they are going to take the three points on offer. Chile are in good holes after their come from behind victory and a point against Uruguay should be enough to get them into the direction of the last eight. Despite a change of coach, little has changed in the way that they play and they will be looking for the win that will secure their last eight place. Uruguay on the other hand have everything to play for after what was a disappointing result the other night. The draw was the least they deserved and with a squad similar to the one that was in South Africa last year they should be aiming high in this tournament.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Copa América 2011 - Matchday 1 Round Up

After one round of matches in all three groups things haven't quite gone to plan in the Copa América so far this year.

In the opening game on Friday night in La Plata, host Argentina were held by lowly Bolivia in a result that will put nerves through the home nation. Edvaldo Rojas put Bolivia ahead three minutes after the break when he back heeled home a Jhasmani Campos corner but defender Éver Banega and keeper Sergio Romero surely has to be questioned as to why they didn't keep the tame looking shot out. The hosts got back into it with fourteen minutes to go, Nicolas Burdisso chested the ball down and substitute Sergio Agüero volleyed home from twelve yards out. The following night in Jujuy, Colombia went top of Group A when they defeated invitees Costa Rica. Chilean referee Enrique Osses was dishing yellow cards to Costa Rican players in the first 24 minutes but there were no complaints when Randall Brenes was sent off for a poor challenge just short of the half hour. The winner came on the stroke of half time, Fredy Guarín released Adrian Ramos who lashed the ball past Leonel Moreira in the Costa Rican goal.

Group B didn't exactly set the tournament alive, in the opening game in La Plata holder Brazil were held to a scoreless draw by rank outsiders Venezuela. A result which put pressure on Brazil to perform a lot better in their second game of the competition on Saturday. The stage was set for Paraguay and Ecuador to take advantage and put themselves in the box seat for qualifying for the last 8 but again a large crowd in Santa Fé didn't get to see any goals. Group B is now the most open of groups with all four teams still in with a chance of qualifying.

Group C began last night with Uruguay taking on Peru in San Juan. After their good run in South Africa twelve months ago Uruguay are being hotly tipped for a fifteenth title but they came unstuck against the lowest ranked team in the competition. Paolo Guerrero gave Peru a shock lead with twenty four minutes gone. Michael Guevara's long ball saw Guerrero spring the offside trap and take the ball round Fernando Muslera and roll it into an empty net. Uruguay levelled in injury time at the end of the first half, Nicolas Lodeiro playing the ball into Luis Suárez and the hero/villain of South Africa placed the ball past Raul Fernández to give Uruguay parity. In the second game of the night in San Juan Chile went to the top of the group after overcoming a resilient Mexico side. The Mexicans took the lead four minutes before the break, and against the run of play, when Nestor Araujo headed them ahead. Chile levelled half way through the second half, the ball ricocheting around the area after a corner and substitute Esteben Paredes got the last touch. Six minutes later Chile got the winner and it also came from a corner, Matias Fernández swung the corner in and Arturo Vidal climbed highest to head home the winner.

The competition returns on Thursday when Argentina take on Colombia with Bolivia and Costa Rica to follow. Friday sees Peru take on Mexico while the big guns in Group C, Chile and Uruguay meet in Mendoza and Saturday sees Brazil take on Paraguay and Venezuela face Ecuador.

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Brasileirão Petrobras - Week 6 Catch Up

Santos 1-0 América Mineiro

In a game held over from last weekend, a depleted Santos got their season back on track after a narrow victory over América-MG at the Vila Belmiro. The only goal of the came with just eight minutes on the clock, a free kick from Arouca was headed into his own net by the unfortunate Anderson. Despite the best efforts of the visitors to get back into the game, the Santos defence held firm and the home fans celebrated a first league victory since their success against Peñarol in the Copa Libertadores final.

The midweek clash with Fluminense has been been rearranged to August so a depleted Santos will not be back in action until they face Palmeiras next weekend, América-MG though will take on the same opposition in midweek.

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Saturday, 2 July 2011

Brasileirão Petrobras - Week 7

Vasco da Gama 0-3 Cruzeiro
Grêmio 2-2 Avaí
América Mineiro 2-3 Flamengo
São Paulo 0-2 Botafogo
Figueirense 2-1 Santos
Bahia 0-1 Corinthians
Palmeiras 2-0 Atlético Goianiense
Coritiba 3-1 Ceará
Fluminense 3-1 Atlético Paranaense
Atlético Mineiro 0-4 Internacional

Vasco da Gama were finally bought down to earth as Cruzeiro continued their good start under Joel Santana after victory at the São Januário. All the goals came in the second half, Leandro Guerreiro put Cruzeiro with nine minutes gone and Walter Montillo doubled the lead two minutes from time. Roger wrapped things up from the spot in injury time. Avaí climbed off the bottom of the table after picking up their second points of the season at Grêmio. Gustavo Bastos put Avaí ahead with just four minutes on the clock but they were reduced to ten men when Bastista was sent off two minutes after the break. It didn't stop Avaí doubling their lead six minutes later through Robinho and they were on track for their first win of the season. Douglas pulled a goal back from the spot seventeen minutes from time but then saw a red card two minutes later to make it ten per side. As Avaí thought they were going to get that victory they were denied by Rafael Marques in injury time to hand Grêmio and undeserved point. Flamengo made hard work of overcoming América-MG in Sete Lagoas. Ronaldinho Gáucho put the Rubro-Negro ahead with ten minutes gone but Alessandro and Anderson put América-MG ahead by the break. Last weekend's hero Deivid put Flamengo level eleven minutes after the break and with twenty minutes to go América-MG were reduced to ten when Leandro Ferreira was sent off. Flamengo won it seven minutes from time when Ronaldinho Gáucho got his second of the game to win it.

The São Paulo bubble has well and truly burst after they fell to back to back defeats as Botafogo took the points away from the Morumbi. Elkeson put the Alvinegro ahead ten minutes before the break and Argentinian German Herrera wrapped things up from the spot six minutes after the break. After their Libertadores success it was a totally different Santos side that fell to defeat against Figueirense in Florianópolis. Alioso put the home side ahead with just five minutes gone but Santos were level within a minute thanks to Rychely. A second from Alioso just after the half hour proved to be the winner for Figueirense. Corinthians took advantage of São Paulo's stumble to go top of the table after a hard earned win at Bahia. The home side were buoyed by back to back road wins but they fell to defeat through Chicão's penalty with thirteen minutes gone. Palmeiras remain in the hunt for top spot after they saw off Atlético-GO at the Estadio Canindé. Maikon Leite put Palmeiras ahead twenty eight minutes into his debut after this arrival from Santos and Marcos Assunção wrapped things up from the spot six minutes later.

Coritiba picked up only their second win of the season after they overcame Ceará. Leonardo put Coritiba ahead with thirty two minutes gone and Evérton Costa doubled the lead two minutes later. Léo Gago made it three ten minutes after the break but Washington pulled a goal back for Ceará a minutes later but he was sent off eight minutes from time. Atlético-PR fell to the bottom of the table after the were defeated by Fluminense at the Engenhão. Mariano put Fluminense ahead four minutes before the break and Ciro doubled the lead two minutes later. A second for Ciro just short of the hour made it three and Edigar got a consolation for Atlético-PR four minutes from time. Internacional made it five undefeated after they were too strong for Atlético-MG in Sete Lagoas. After a scoreless first half Leandro Damião put Internacional ahead nine minutes after the break and Zé Roberto doubled the lead two minutes later. Andres D'Alessandro made it three fourteen minutes from time and Oscar put the icing on the cake four minutes later.

No games at the weekend, barring the catch up game for Santos and América-MG, due to the Copa América opening weekend so it's midweek action again next week with another Santos game being held over until later on in the season.

Internacional x Atlético Paranaense
Cruzeiro x Grêmio
Avaí x Bahia
Corinthians x Vasco da Gama
Ceará x Atlético Mineiro
Flamengo x São Paulo
Botafogo x Atlético Goianiense
Coritiba x Figueirense
América Mineiro x Palmeiras

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