Conca to play Brazilian second division as Fluminense relegated

RIO DE JANEIRO, Dec. 8 ( -- Argentine midfielder Dario Conca has to play the second division soccer in Brazil next season as Fluminense were relegated on Sunday.

Fluminense became the first defending Brazilian league champion to be relegated to the second division, and traditional Rio de Janeiro rival Vasco da Gama also was demoted.

Conca, who left Fluminense in 2011 to join China's Guangzhou Evergrande, will return to the club next season with a three-year deal.

The 30-year-old was a key member of the Fluminense team that won the 2010 Brazilian league.

He helped Guangzhou Evergrande become the first Chinese winners of the AFC Champions League with 2-2 on road and 1-1 at home against FC Seoul last month.

The Brazilian soccer league concluded the last round matches Sunday. Although Fluminense rallied to beat Bahia 2-1 in Salvador, the result wasn't enough to keep them in the top flight.

The team finished with the same 46 points as Criciuma outside relegation zone, but with one less victory.

Fluminense had to beat Bahia and hoped that other results went its way. But the relegation was confirmed when Coritiba stunned Sao Paulo 1-0, ending Fluminense's hopes. Coritiba was among the six clubs in danger of relegation on Sunday.

Vasco da Gama lost 5-1 to Atletico Paranaense to finish with 44 points and were also relegated. Nautico and Ponte Preta had already been demoted before the final round.

We are all extremely sad right now, Fluminense goalkeeper Diego Cavalieri said. We know that it won't be easy to play in the second division next year but we will have to work hard to make sure we return.

Fluminense had almost been relegated in 2009, but it won six of its last seven matches to remain in the first division.