- Associated Press - Sunday, April 13, 2014

SAO PAULO (AP) - Flamengo scored in stoppage time to draw 1-1 with Vasco da Gama on Sunday and win the Rio de Janeiro state championship for a record 33rd time.

Midfielder Marcio Araujo scored the equalizer in the first minute of injury time to give Flamengo the state title - its fifth in the last eight years and first since 2011.

Flamengo had the tiebreak advantage because it had the competition’s best campaign entering the final. The teams also drew 1-1 in the first leg last week.

Vasco da Gama, seeking its first state title since 2003, opened the scoring at the packed Maracana with a penalty by midfielder Douglas in the 76th.

Araujo’s title-clincher came from the rebound of a header that bounced off the crossbar and passed in front of the goal before being kicked into the net.

“This is unbelievable,” said Araujo, who was clearly offside at the time of the header. “These things will only happen with a team like Flamengo. Their fans were already celebrating but I found a way to give us the title.”

Vasco coach Adilson Batista lamented the refereeing mistake.

“We played better and deserved the title,” he said. “It’s sad that it came down to another mistake against us.”

Brazil’s most popular club, Flamengo was coming off a disappointing elimination in the group stage of the Copa Libertadores on Wednesday.

Before the 2011 title, Flamengo won three straight trophies from 2007-2009. Fluminense is the team closest to Flamengo with 31 state trophies.

Vasco, a 22-time winner in Rio, had already lost the last four finals it played against Flamengo, including in 2004, the last time it reached the decisive match.

In the Sao Paulo state championship, Ituano stunned Santos to secure its first significant title after winning a penalty shootout 7-6.

The surprising victory came after Santos won 1-0 in regulation to offset a loss by the same score in the first leg, sending the match into the shootout. Goalkeeper Vagner made the decisive stop in the final penalty to give Ituano the title at a Pacaembu stadium packed with Santos supporters.

It was the first time since 2004 that none of the top teams in Sao Paulo - Santos, Palmeiras, Corinthians and Sao Paulo - won the state title. Sao Caetano was the champion that year.

Ituano had already upset Palmeiras 1-0 in a one-leg semifinal two weeks ago. The team’s coach is former Brazil midfielder Doriva and its general manager is former Brazil playmaker Juninho.

“I don’t know what to say,” Doriva said. “It’s still hard to believe that this is happening.”

Ituano escaped relegation in the last round of the regional tournament last year. It won a state title in 2002, but none of the teams were playing in that year’s competition.

Santos was playing in its sixth straight state final, the first after Brazil star Neymar left for Barcelona. It won three titles in a row from 2010-12. Last year it lost to Corinthians, which didn’t advance past the first stage this time.

In the Rio Grande do Sul state championship, Internacional won the title 6-2 on aggregate after a 4-1 win over rival Gremio. Argentine midfielder Andres D’Alessandro scored Internacional’s first goal on Sunday.

In the Minas Gerais state championship, Brazilian champion Cruzeiro held rival Atletico Mineiro to a scoreless draw to win the title for the first time since 2011. The teams had played to another scoreless draw in the first leg last week, but Cruzeiro had the tiebreak advantage because it had a better campaign in the previous stages.

The Brazilian league starts next weekend.


Tales Azzoni on Twitter: https://twitter.com/tazzoni

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