Sao Paulo,July 29: Cruzeiro took the lead in the Brazilian league Sunday with a 4-1 win over Atletico Mineiro, taking advantage of its opponent resting Ronaldinho and other regular starters after winning the Copa Libertadores four days ago.
Cruzeiro has the same 18 points as Internacional but is ahead on goal difference. Internacional, still without recently acquired Argentine striker Ignacio Scocco, missed a chance to stay ahead after a 3-0 loss at Nautico.
Botafogo also could have taken the lead, but it conceded a last-minute goal to rival Flamengo in a 1-1 draw at the Maracana Stadium. Coritiba drew Vitoria by the same score at home and also relinquished a chance to move into first place.
Defending champion Fluminense fell 2-0 to Gremio to lose its fifth game in a row and remains near the bottom of the table. Six-time champion Sao Paulo extended its winless run to 12 matches after a 0-0 draw with rival Corinthians at the Pacaembu.
Alecsandro put Atletico Mineiro ahead in the 18th minute at the Mineirao Stadium in Belo Horizonte, but striker Everton Ribeiro equalized in the 32nd and teammate Ricardo Goulart put Cruzeiro ahead two minutes before halftime. Nilton added to the lead in the 54th, and Ricardo Goulart finished the scoring in the 57th to give Cruzeiro its fifth win in nine matches.
Atletico Mineiro played without the starters who gave the team its first Latin American title following a penalty shootout win over Olimpia of Paraguay on Wednesday in the Copa Libertadores final at the Mineirao. Former two-time FIFA player of the year Ronaldinho and goalkeeper Victor, who made a penalty save, were among those absent.
Botafogo got on the board in the first half after Dutch midfielder Clarence Seedorf set up Rafael Marques's goal from inside the area, but midfielder Elias equalized for Flamengo in the fifth minute of second half injury time. Botafogo, third in the standings with 17 points, squandered several chances to increase its lead in the second half.
“We lost control of the match in the end and we couldn't get anything going,” Seedorf said. “They deserved the draw. We should've played better.”
Fourth-place Coritiba also failed to get past 17 points after a home draw with Vitoria in Curitiba. Former Fenerbahce playmaker Alex scored the team's equalizer and nearly netted the winner with a shot that struck the crossbar just before the final whistle.
Newly arrived Paraguayan midfielder Cristian Riveros scored with a 50th-minute header and striker Kleber sealed Gremio's victory over Fluminense with a goal in the 85th in Porto Alegre.
Gremio rose to seventh in the standings, leaving Fluminense in the relegation zone with nine points from as many matches. Fluminense hasn't won since a 2-1 victory against Goias in early June.
Sao Paulo, which has nine points from 11 matches, wasn't able to halt its record 12-match winless run. But the team avoided its ninth loss in a row by drawing 0-0 with defending club world champion Corinthians at Pacaembu Stadium.
“It would be ideal to get the win,” Sao Paulo goalkeeper Rogerio Ceni said. “But we have to understand that at this stage it was important to stop losing.”
Sao Paulo has played two extra games because of an international friendly tournament in Germany this coming week. Corinthians, winless in three straight Brazilian league matches, is 11th in the 20-team standings.