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By ESPN Staff

Romario nets goal number 999 in Vasco win

RIO DE JANEIRO, March 25 (Reuters) - Former Brazil striker Romario took his self-declared career tally to 999 goals on Sunday, scoring the third goal in Vasco da Gama's 3-0 win over arch-rivals Flamengo.

Romario, performing on his favourite stage at the Maracana stadium, scored Vasco's third goal in the 79th minute and was agonisingly close to reaching the 1,000 milestone eight minutes later.

The 41-year-old was left with only Bruno to beat from close range but the Flamengo goalkeeper managed to save the shot with his foot.

Vasco's next game is against Americano in their own and more modest Sao Januario stadium on Wednesday and Romario said he would ask club president Eurico Miranda to transfer the game to the Maracana.

'The goalkeeper did his job,' said Romario as he left the pitch in the midst of a horde of cameramen and reporters.

'Unfortunately, I scored only one so it will have to wait until the next time.'

'I would like the stage to have been at the Maracana, but if it happens somewhere else, that's life. It will be historic wherever I score.'

'We won the game and I'm happy to have been part of the team.'

Romario has kept his tally with the help of three statisticians and openly admits it includes goals scored in junior, testimonial and club friendly games.

The Carioca championship game began ten minutes late because of the number of reporters trying to interview Romario on the pitch before kick-off.

Vasco took command as Leandro Amaral and Abedi scored either side of halftime before Romario, left unmarked in the penalty, swept home a cross from the right.

Flamengo had Leonardo Moura sent off for a tackle from behind while Vasco defender Fabio Braz was dismissed in injury-time.

Vasco lead Group B in the championship's second stage on nine points from three games. Flamengo, who won the first stage of the complex competition, dropped to fifth out of six in Group A.

Santos stayed top of the Paulista championship by beating Rio Claro 2-1 with goals from Marcos Aurelio and Rodrigo Tiui.

Brazilian champions Sao Paulo, who lost a 29-match unbeaten record when they went down 2-1 to Necaxa of Mexico in the Libertadores Cup last week, were beaten again, losing 1-0 to Sao Caetano.

Caninde scored the only goal on the stroke of halftime. Sao Paulo stayed second with 34 points from 15 games, four ahead of Sao Caetano.