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Penalty miss leaves Botafogo in relegation zone

© Reuters 2002

RIO DE JANEIRO, Oct 31 (Reuters) - Botafogo captain Galeano, who said he would not celebrate if he scored a goal against his old club Palmeiras, added to the controversy by missing a crucial penalty as Palmeiras won Wednesday's Brazilian championship match 2-1.

Galeano had been offered 5,000 reais ($1,340) bonus by club directors for scoring on the condition that he celebrated the goal as well. When Botafogo were awarded a second-half penalty, it seemed that the offer would be put to the test.

But, as the suspense built over whether he would change his mind and accept the offer, Galeano added an unexpected twist to the saga by hitting his shot wide of the goal to allow Palmeiras to hang to their 2-1 lead.

The defeat sent Botafogo to 25th in the 26-team table, while Palmeiras leapt off the bottom and climbed to 21st. The bottom four teams go down.

After the game, Palmeiras supporters celebrated the win with a chorus of "Galeano", who was raised and spent 10 years at the club before joining Botafogo in July.

"Of course I wanted to score the goal," said Galeano. "At least I had the character to take the penalty in the first place."

But Botafogo president Mauro Ney Palmeiro said: "It was a mistake by whoever decided he should take the penalty."

Palmeiras, missing Brazil's World Cup goalkeeper Marcos with a thigh strain, got off to a flying start when Colombian striker Hernan Dario Munoz scored twice in the opening five minutes. Carlos Alberto replied for Botafogo in the 19th minute.

Flamengo, Brazil's most popular club, also dropped into the relegation zone after a 1-0 home defeat against Corinthians, who continued their impressive year under Brazil's 1994 World Cup-winning coach Carlos Alberto Parreira.

Flamengo directors had slashed ticket prices to 3 reais (0.80 cents) and aired a prime-time television commercial featuring the team's top players in the hope of attracting a 60,000 crowd but the turnout was a disappointing 24,492.

Guilherme scored the only goal and after the match a group of angry Flamengo supporters surrounded their team's bus to insult and threaten the players.

Corinthians climbed to third and made virtually sure of a quarter-final place.

In other matches, Cruzeiro - another big club having a miserable year - and defending champions Atletico Paranaense slid further towards the danger zone.

Cruzeiro's 3-1 defeat at Coritiba left them 19th while Atletico 15th are after losing 2-1 at Gremio.

"We're going to get Cruzeiro out of this situation," said coach Vanderlei Luxemburgo, who was fired by Brazil following the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

"I'm responsible as coach but so are the players. Cruzeiro is a club with a good structure which pays on time and we have our duty."

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