Botafogo relegated in Brazilian league
SAO PAULO (AP) — Traditional Rio de Janeiro club Botafogo was relegated to the second division of the Brazilian league after a 2-0 loss at Santos on Sunday.
Former Brazil striker Leandro Damiao scored twice in the second half to give Santos the win and seal Botafogo’s demotion for the second time in its 110-year history. The two-time Brazilian champion also played in the second division in 2003.
With one round left, Botafogo is second-to-last in the 20-team standings with 33 points. It is six points behind Palmeiras, the first team outside the relegation zone. The bottom four clubs are demoted.
Cruzeiro, which clinched its second consecutive league title last week, drew Chapecoense 1-1 in Chapeco using its second stringers. The four-time national champion reached 77 points, one more than it needed to win last year’s competition.
Second-place Sao Paulo drew Figueirense 1-1 at the Morumbi Stadium in Kaka’s last home game before moving to Major League Soccer.
Also Sunday, Fluminense routed Corinthians 5-2 in Rio with goals by striker Fred and Argentine playmaker Dario Conca. Peru striker Paolo Guerrero scored one of Corinthians’ goals.
Botafogo needed to beat Santos to remain with hopes of escaping relegation, but it lost for the sixth time in a row after Damiao scored in the 49th and 90th minutes at the Vila Belmiro Stadium in Santos.
“There’s not much to say,” Botafogo defender Andre Bahia said. “It’s just sad. We fought hard but it wasn’t enough.”
One of the top four teams in Rio de Janeiro, Botafogo has struggled financially in recent years and hasn’t been able to pay players’ salaries on time. The club’s president drew criticism after he released some of its best players a few months ago, saying they were not providing good leadership.
“It’s tough with everything that we’ve had to go through this year, but what happened off the field shouldn’t be an excuse for our poor performances,” defender Regis said. “The fans didn’t deserve this, we have to apologize. We are ashamed.”
Botafogo made headlines in 2012 when it signed Dutch star Clarence Seedorf, who led the club to the Rio state title in 2013.
At the Maracana Stadium, Guerrero put Corinthians ahead in the fifth minute, but Fluminense rallied with two second-half penalty kicks converted by Fred and a last-minute goal by Conca. Fred is the tournament’s leading scorer with 17 goals.
Corinthians guaranteed a place in next year’s Copa Libertadores despite the loss.
On Saturday, third-place Internacional beat Palmeiras 3-1 in Porto Alegre and also secured a berth in Latin America’s most important competition next season.
The result left Palmeiras in danger of relegation. The eight-time national champion has lost five in a row, being outscored 11-1, and must beat Atletico Paranaense at home in the final round to avoid being demoted for the second time in three years.
Palmeiras is one point ahead of Vitoria, the first team inside the relegation zone. Vitoria lost 4-0 to Flamengo in the jungle city of Manaus.
Bahia also has a chance to escape relegation thanks to a 1-0 win over Luiz Felipe Scolari’s Gremio in Salvador.
Criciuma had already been relegated.
In the final round of the second division on Saturday, Avai became the last team to secure its place in the top flight after a 1-0 win over Vasco da Gama, which had already sealed its return. Joinville, the tournament’s champion, and Ponte Preta also had clinched a berth in the first division in advance.
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