(Reuters) - Flamengo, facing Libertadores Cup exit at the group stage, sidestepped angry fans' plans to pelt them with eggs on Thursday's arrival at Rio de Janeiro airport from Ecuador where they lost 3-2 to Emelec.
The fans did not even get a glimpse of Ronaldinho's team and Joel Santana's coaching staff who were ushered away through a secret exit having dropped to the bottom of Group Two with one match to play, Brazilian media network Globo reported.
"It's difficult to explain the inexplicable," Santana was quoted as saying by Gazeta Esportiva (www.gazetaesportiva.net) in Guayaquil after the defeat.
Santana suggested Flamengo did not know how to manage their lead, saying: "We conceded the (last) goal knowing what was going to happen. I think we're lacking maturity.
"You take the lead once, then again, and in the final 12 minutes you hand over the game. It's difficult (to explain), we've got to talk to the players and the technical commission because something's wrong. We have to rethink some concepts," he said.
To qualify for the knockout phase, Flamengo need to beat Argentine group leaders Lanus in Rio next week and hope for a draw in Asuncion where second-placed Olimpia of Paraguay host Emelec in a match the Ecuadoreans must win if they are to go through.
Lanus have 10 points, Olimpia seven, Emelec six and Flamengo five.
Failure for 1981 South American champions Flamengo to reach the last 16 could cost Santana his job after he was poached from Bahia two months ago to bring cohesion to a side following differences between senior players and his predecessor Vanderlei Luxemburgo.
The group did not appear too tough at first glance despite the presence of three-times champions Olimpia, who emerged from a decade of under-achievement by winning the Paraguayan league title in December.
Lanus, who thumped Olimpia 6-0 in Buenos Aires on Tuesday, have had a good run in the competition despite poor results in the Argentine Clausura championship in which they have lost five and drawn one of their last six matches.
Emelec did not appear to pose too big a threat in Guayaquil on Wednesday and Flamengo took the lead twice in the first half but they gave away a penalty on the edge of the box in the final minute to drop all three points.
Club officials said the team would have no contact with the media as they prepared for Saturday's derby against Vasco da Gama in the Carioca (Rio) state championship.
Writing By Rex Gowar in Buenos Aires; Editing by Alison Wildey