Fluminense wins to stay ahead in Brazilian league


SAO PAULO (AP) -Fred scored the lone goal as Fluminense edged Internacional 1-0 Sunday to extend its unbeaten streak to 11 matches and maintain the Brazilian league lead.

The former Brazil striker scored in the first half as Fluminense held on for the victory at the Beira-Rio stadium, reaching 50 points from 23 matches. It has a two-point lead over Atletico Mineiro, which beat Palmeiras 3-0 to stay in touch. Atletico, led by two-time world player of the year Ronaldinho, has a game in hand.

The closest team to Fluminense and Atletico Mineiro in the 20-team standings is Gremio, which on Saturday lost 3-1 to defending champion Corinthians and is six points off the lead.

Fourth place Vasco da Gama was routed by Bahia 4-0 at home and is 11 points back.

Fred scored his league-leading 11th goal with a right-footed shot from near the penalty spot in the 29th minute under heavy rain in the southern city of Porto Alegre. Forward Wellington Nem made a run from near the midfield line and cleared two defenders before setting up Fred inside the area. The striker controlled the ball and sent a low shot into the net.

Both teams went a man down early in the second half. Internacional had defender Nei sent off with a second yellow card after a hard foul on Wellington Nem, and a minute later Fluminense defender Leandro Euzebio was red carded for kicking an Internacional player away from the ball.

Internacional defender Fabricio was sent off after the match was over for heavily complaining with the refereeing. Internacional players wanted a penalty kick call in their favor when the match was scoreless in the first half.

"We did our part here, that was important," Fluminense goalkeeper Diego Cavalieri said. "We are going through a good moment and we need to take advantage of it. There's still a long way to go but it's good to be up front right now."

Atletico Mineiro scored three second half goals to defeat struggling Palmeiras in Belo Horizonte. Defender Leonardo Silva opened the scoring with a header off a corner taken by Ronaldinho.

The result kept Palmeiras, the Brazilian team with the most national titles, deep in the relegation zone.

Vasco da Gama missed a chance to get closer with the loss to Bahia at Sao Januario stadium in Rio de Janeiro. Jones and Souza scored two goals each for Bahia, which is only 14th in the standings.

Also Sunday, Sao Paulo drew rival Santos 0-0 at the Vila Belmiro stadium in Santos, staying in sixth place.

Sao Paulo played a man down from the 84th because midfielder Denilson was sent off with a second yellow card.

Santos was without striker Neymar and Sao Paulo without playmaker Lucas, who are with Brazil's national team for a friendly against China on Monday in the northeastern Brazilian city of Recife. Santos midfielder Arouca also was absent because he is with the national team, and playmaker Paulo Henrique Ganso didn't play because he is negotiating a transfer out of the club.

Santos dropped to 15th in the standings with the home draw.

In Rio de Janeiro, Clarence Seedorf's Botafogo moved to fifth with a 3-1 win over Nautico, its third victory in a row. Botafogo midfielder Andrezinho scored a goal and set up two others by striker Elkeson.

On Saturday, Copa Libertadores champion Corinthians - focused on FIFA's club world championship later this year - scored two early goals to get past Gremio at the Pacaembu stadium in Sao Paulo, while Ponte Preta drew Figueirense 2-2 in Campinas.

Flamengo fell 3-0 to Coritiba, losing its third in a row and extending its winless streak to five matches. Brazil's most popular club dropped to 13th in the standings. Still without newly signed former Brazil star Adriano, it has been outscored 8-1 in its last three matches.

In other results Sunday, Sport defeated Cruzeiro 2-1 in Recife and Atletico Goianiense was held by Portuguesa to a 1-1 draw in Goiania.


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