Santos maintain top spot, Flamengo stumble

April 5th, 2012 - 4:56 pm ICT by IANS  

Rio de Janeiro, April 5 (IANS) Reigning Copa Libertadores champions Santos maintained the top spot in their group after a 1-1 draw with Brazilian rival Internacional at Porto Alegre’s Beira-Rio stadium while Flamengo slumped to last place in their group after a narrow loss to Ecuador’s Emelec.

Internacional took the lead Wednesday after just eight minutes when Nei’s curving free-kick found the top right corner of Rafael’s goal.

The visitors equalized in the 65th minute when substitute Alan Kardec scored with a diving header after a pinpoint Juan cross.

The eagerly anticipated battle between national teammates Neymar and Leandro Damiao was a one-man show, with the latter barely sighted all evening, Xinhua reported.

In contrast, Neymar was a constant threat for Santos.

He had several chances to score late in the match, including a dipping drive from outside the area that forced a spectacular finger-tip save from goalkeeper Muriel.

The result leaves Santos on 10 points, two clear of Internacional, which could be usurped in second place by Bolivia’s The Strongest on Thursday.

Meanwhile, two late goals from Emelec gave the Ecuadorian team a 3-2 victory over Flamengo in Guayaquil.

The Brazilian club started brightly when Leo Moura scored after just seven minutes. A Luciano Figueroa header levelled the scores on 33 minutes before Deivid made it 1-2 in favour of the visitors just before half-time.

With former FIFA player of the year Ronaldinho unable to conjure his old magic, Flamengo floundered late in the match.

Another Figueroa header in the 82nd minute and an injury-time penalty by Fernando Gaibor gave Emelec victory and kept alive its hopes of advancing to the next phase.

Flamengo, last in the group with five points from five games, will rely on other results in their favour to have any chance of avoiding an early exit.

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