Internacional sign off with 4-1 home defeat

December 4, 2006
By Brian Homewood

RIO DE JANEIRO, Dec 3 (Reuters) - South American champions Internacional, playing their last match before the World Club championship, were thrashed 4-1 at home by Goias in their final league game of the season.

Parana qualified for the Libertadores Cup for the first time by drawing 0-0 with champions Sao Paulo, and Corinthians, last year's champions, finished with a flourish by beating Juventude 5-3.

A capacity 45,000 crowd filled Porto Alegre's Beira-Rio stadium to give Internacional a rousing send-off for their trip to Japan, where they are expected to be the main challengers to European champions Barcelona.

But the festive atmosphere quickly changed as Goias, despite having defender Leonardo sent off, took a 2-0 halftime lead with goals by Welliton and Luciano Almeida.

Goias doubled their lead within 10 minutes of the restart when Romerito converted a penalty and midfielder Cleber Gaucho scored direct from a free kick.

Defender Fabiano Eller headed Inter's consolation as disgruntled home fans fought amongst themselves on the terraces before riot police intervened.

Internacional ended the competition with 69 points from 38 games to finish runners-up for the second year in a row.

Sao Paulo, who had wrapped up the title with two games to spare, sent their reserves to Parana who failed to take advantage and were held to a goalless draw.

However, the result was enough to give Parana a fifth-place finish and Brazil's final spot in the Libertadores after Vasco da Gama, one point below them, were held 0-0 at Figueirense.

Vasco were agonisingly close to qualifying when Leandro Amaral's header hit the crossbar in stoppage-time.

Gremio and Santos took the other Brazilian places in the Libertadores along with Flamengo, who won the Copa Brasil knockout tournament.

The relegation places had already been settled with Ponte Preta, Sao Caetano, Fortaleza and Santa Cruz condemned to the drop.

They will be replaced next year by Atletico Mineiro, Sport Recife, Nautico and America-Natal, who were promoted from Serie B.

Corinthians, who spent much of the championship in the danger zone, finished ninth after beating Juventude.

Corinthians led three times with one goal from Edson and two from Roger, only for the visitors to hit back on each occasion, twice through Cristiano and when Marcel scored direct from a corner.

Marquinhos and Amoroso scored in the last 15 minutes to wrap up victory for Corinthians.