- Associated Press - Sunday, March 9, 2014

SAO PAULO (AP) - Flamengo defeated Botafogo 2-0 at the Maracana on Sunday to ensure it finishes top in the Guanabara Cup; the first stage of the Rio de Janeiro state championship.

Gabriel scored in the 10th minute and Leo in the 90th to give Flamengo the top spot with two rounds still to play. It is the club’s 20th Guanabara Cup title, the most among Rio rivals.

The triumph secures Flamengo the tie-break advantage in the semifinals of the state competition. The Rio tournament is usually divided in two stages, the Guanabara Cup and the Rio Cup, but this year the second stage will be played only by four teams because of a tight schedule prompted by the World Cup.

Botafogo was eliminated from the competition with the loss, while Fluminense guaranteed its spot among the four that will play in the next stage with a 2-2 draw with Duque de Caxias. Vasco da Gama can advance with a draw in the final two matches.

Botafogo, playing with second-string players on Sunday to rest ahead of the Copa Libertadores, had midfielder Airton sent off in the 67th.

In the Sao Paulo state championship, Corinthians lost 3-2 to Sao Paulo, leaving it in a difficult position to advance to the tournament’s quarterfinals. Sao Paulo, Santos and Palmeiras have already reached the next round.

There were cases of fan violence over the weekend, including a confrontation which saw one man shot on the leg before a match at the Arena Castelao in the northeastern city of Fortaleza, which will host World Cup matches in June.

Inside a stadium in the southern city of Londrina, fighting in the stands prompted police officers to fire rubber bullets to contain the altercation.

On Thursday, the mother of a Palmeiras player was injured by a Portuguesa fan who was reportedly upset that her son switched teams. She filed a report to police but was not seriously hurt.

In several matches over the weekend, players and teams carried banners condemning racism, which became a hot topic in the country hosting the World Cup after two players were racially abused in the last few weeks.

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff expressed her discontentment this weekend, saying it’s “inadmissible that the biggest black nation outside of Africa” still has to deal with cases of racism. She said on her Twitter account that she has already talked to the U.N. and to FIFA to make the Brazil World Cup the “World Cup for Peace” and the “World Cup Against Racism.”

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