RIO DE JANEIRO, July 22 (Reuters) – Brazil striker Fred was one of two Fluminense players sent off as the Brazilian champions lost 3-1 to Vasco da Gama in the first domestic match to be played at Maracana since it was rebuilt for next year’s World Cup.
Juninho Pernambucano scored Vasco’s first goal and set up another as the 38-year-old began a third stint at the club.
Former Fenerbahce midfielder Alex and former AS Roma defender Juan, who like Juninho are playing out their careers at home after lengthy spells in Europe, also scored decisive goals in Sunday’s games.
Vasco went ahead after 16 minutes when Juninho, who spent eight seasons at Olympique Lyon, arrowed his shot into the top corner after Pedro Ken had dispossessed Edinho and pulled the ball back.
Fred, who scored two goals for Brazil in their 3-0 Confederations Cup final win over Spain in his previous appearance at the stadium three weeks ago, was given a straight red card nine minutes later for elbowing Vasco defender Jomar.
Vasco went further ahead at the start of the second half when Juninho’s pass opened up the Flu defence and Andre lobbed the ball over Diego Cavalieri.
Carlinhos pulled one back but Fluminense’s chances ended when defender Digao was sent off for fouling Andre and denying him a clear run on goal.
Substitute Carlos Tenorio added a third for Vasco.
Coritiba playmaker Alex, who spent eight years at Fenerbahce and won 48 caps for Brazil, scored both goals as his side twice came from behind to draw 2-2 at Santos.
Alex deftly clipped the ball into the net in first-half stoppage time to cancel out Neilton’s opener for Santos, then rescued a point with a clinical effort three minutes from time after Cicero had headed Santos back in front.
The point put Coritiba level on 16 points with Botafogo at the top of the 20-team table.
Former Bayer Leverkusen, AS Roma and Brazil defender Juan headed a stoppage-time goal to give fourth-placed Internacional a 1-0 win over Flamengo in a meeting of teams led by two former Brazil coaches.
Dunga, who led Brazil at the 2010 World Cup, is in charge of Inter while Flamengo, a modest 15th, are coached by Mano Menezes, who replaced Dunga and was sacked last November.
Bahia and Vitoria drew 0-0 in the Salvador derby at the Fonte Nova, while former AC Milan striker Alexandre Pato’s goal gave Corinthians a 1-1 draw at Atletico Paranaense. (Writing by Brian Homewood in Berne; Editing by John O’Brien)