Cruzeiro beats Gremio, closes in on Brazil title
SAO PAULO (AP) — Cruzeiro overcame a first-half deficit to beat Gremio 2-1 and move within a victory of clinching its second consecutive Brazilian league title.
Midfielder Ricardo Goulart and forward Everton Ribeiro scored second-half goals Thursday as the defending champion won its fourth game in a row and set up a seven-point lead over second-place Sao Paulo with three rounds to go.
Paraguay midfielder Cristian Riveros opened the scoring for Gremio in the 14th minute in Porto Alegre, but Goulart equalized from close range in the 66th and Ribeiro scored the winner after a breakaway in the 76th.
Cruzeiro can clinch its fourth league title with a home victory against Goias on Sunday at its Mineirao Stadium in Belo Horizonte.
“This group deserves the title, we’ve been fighting for it since the beginning of the championship and we are not going to let it slip away,” Goulart said. “We knew how hard it was to get a good result here, so this is very gratifying for the entire group. Now we have to get ready for Sunday to make sure we can come away with the title.”
Cruzeiro, which hadn’t beaten Gremio in Porto Alegre since 2007, can also win the Brazilian Cup title next week, although it needs to reverse a 2-0 first-leg loss to Belo Horizonte rival Atletico Mineiro.
Sixth on the table, Gremio was also trying to win its fourth in a row. A victory would have left Luiz Felipe Scolari’s team in third place, in good position to qualify for next year’s Copa Libertadores. Only the top four teams will secure a spot in Latin America’s most important continental club competition next year.
Also Thursday, newcomer Chapecoense had a 4-1 upset win over four-time champion Fluminense at the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, leaving the relegation zone. Fluminense is seventh in the standings.
On Wednesday, Corinthians edged Goias 1-0 in the northern city of Belem to win its third in a row and reach third place in the 20-team standings, three points behind Sao Paulo. Fourth-place Atletico Mineiro routed Flamengo 4-0 at the Independencia Stadium in Belo Horizonte.
Palmeiras lost 2-0 to Sport in the debut of its 43,000-capacity arena in Sao Paulo, a result that left the eight-time champion just one point outside the relegation zone. Traditional Rio de Janeiro club Botafogo lost 1-0 to Figueirense at Sao Januario Stadium in Rio, dropping to second-to-last place on the table and remaining in serious danger of relegation.
Also Wednesday, Brazil striker Robinho scored Santos’ goal in a 1-1 draw against Atletico Paranaense in Curitiba.
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