Champion Cruzeiro regains Brazilian league lead
SAO PAULO (AP) — Bolivian striker Marcelo Moreno scored a first-half goal to help defending champion Cruzeiro defeat Santos 3-0 and retake the Brazilian league lead on Sunday.
Cruzeiro also got second-half goals from former Brazil midfielder Julio Baptista and playmaker Ricardo Goulart, the tournament’s leading scorer with nine goals.
Cruzeiro lost the league lead on Saturday after Internacional beat Goias 1-0 in Goiania to jump to 31 points. The three-time national champion reached 33 points from 15 matches with Sunday’s victory at the Mineirao Stadium.
Third-place Corinthians lost a chance to move closer to the top after a 1-1 home draw against struggling Bahia on Saturday, while popular club Flamengo, now coached by Vanderlei Luxemburgo, left the relegation zone with a 1-0 win at Coritiba.
Botafogo, enduring financial struggles that have kept players from receiving their salaries, also left the relegation zone after beating rival Fluminense 2-0 with a goal by Paraguay striker Pablo Zeballos at the Maracana Stadium. It was Botafogo’s first win in three matches.
Fluminense striker Fred, who played poorly with the Brazilian national team during the World Cup, missed a penalty kick late in the match, sending his shot high and wide.
In Belo Horizonte, Moreno scored with a controversial header in the 24th minute. Santos players wanted the goal to be disallowed because of offsides but the officiating crew let the play stand. Goulart added to the lead in the 48th and Baptista closed the scoring in the 87th to give Cruzeiro its first win after two consecutive draws.
Santos, with former Brazil striker Robinho playing in his third match since returning to Brazilian football on a loan from AC Milan, has lost three straight league matches and is only 10th in the 20-team standings.
Also Sunday, Sao Paulo moved to fifth on the table thanks to a 2-1 win over rival Palmeiras at the Pacaembu Stadium in Sao Paulo. Forward Alexandre Pato opened the scoring in the 53rd and striker Alan Kardec, who transferred from Palmeiras before the World Cup, netted the winner with a header in the 88th minute after striker Henrique had equalized in the 61st.
Chile playmaker Jorge Valdivia had to leave Palmeiras’ team early in the first half after complaining of dizziness. Argentine striker Jonathan Cristaldo entered the match in the second half to make his debut with the eight-time national champion. Coached by Argentine manager Ricardo Gareca, Palmeiras hasn’t won in nine league matches and is in relegation zone.
Also Sunday, Luiz Felipe Scolari’s Gremio defeated Criciuma 2-0 in Porto Alegre, while Atletico Mineiro drew Figueirense 2-2 in Florianopolis with a goal by Argentine striker Jesus Datolo.
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