Latin America

Elias double boosts Botafogo hopes

Andre Santos celebrates scoring Flamengo's 87th-minute equalizer.
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SAO PAULO (AP)

Striker Elias scored a goal in each half to help Botafogo defeat Santos 2-1 and keep pressure on Brazilian league leader Cruzeiro after the competition's halfway point.

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The team led by Dutch midfielder Clarence Seedorf picked up the away victory to stay four points behind Cruzeiro, which beat Atletico Paranaense 1-0 on Saturday for its seventh win in a row.

Third-place Gremio slipped against the leaders after a 1-0 home loss to defending Copa Libertadores champion Atletico Mineiro. With 21 of 39 rounds completed, Hernan Barco's Gremio is nine points from Cruzeiro and five from Botafogo.

Club World Cup winner Corinthians further distanced itself from the frontrunners after a 2-1 home loss to Goias, a result that extended its winless streak to four matches. Six-time Brazilian champion Sao Paulo won its second in a row since the return of coach Muricy Ramalho, leaving the relegation zone.

Also Saturday, defending champion Fluminense came from behind to beat Portuguesa 2-1 at the Maracana Stadium to reach the middle of table.

In Santos, Elias opened the scoring with a goal from close range in the 39th, then added the second with a header in the 52nd to give Botafogo the victory at the Vila Belmiro Stadium. Santos' lone goal came with midfielder Cicero in the 68th.

Cruzeiro picked up its seventh straight win on Saturday thanks to a goal by defensive midfielder Nilton in the 35th at the Mineirao Stadium. The 2003 national champion has outscored opponents 19-6 during its recent winning streak. Sunday's win came despite a goal being wrongly called off for offside just after Nilton scored in the first half.

The result snapped a 13-match unbeaten streak for Atletico Paranaense, which remains fourth on the table with 35 points.

Internacional jumped to fifth in the 20-team standings with 34 points after a 1-0 win at Criciuma. Argentine playmaker Andres D'Alessandro set up Otavio's winner early in the second half.

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Sao Paulo kept its momentum since re-hiring coach Ramalho, going to Rio de Janeiro to defeat Vasco da Gama 2-0 at the Sao Januario Stadium. Defender Rodrigo Caio scored from a corner in the first half and defender Antonio Carlos sealed the victory after a mistake by Vasco goalkeeper Diogo Silva in the second. Sao Paulo moved to 16th in the standings, just out of relegation zone.

Vasco, led by World Cup veteran playmaker Juninho, stayed with 24 points and entered the demotion area because of the loss, its second in a row.

Vasco's rival Flamengo managed a 1-1 draw with Ponte Preta in Campinas thanks to an 87th-minute equalizer scored by former Arsenal left back Andre Santos. Flamengo, only 13th in the standings with 26 points, played a man down from the 65th because Samir was after receiving a second yellow card.

Corinthians dropped to sixth in the standings with the surprise loss to Goias at the Pacaembu Stadium in Sao Paulo. Former AC Milan striker Alexandre Pato equalized for Corinthians in the 74th, but Amaral gave eight-place Goias the win with a header from a corner in the 85th. Corinthians lost three of its last four matches. It also endured a scoreless home draw with last-place Nautico.

In Curitiba, former Brazil and Fenerbahce playmaker Alex scored with a bicycle kick in second-half injury time to help Coritiba salvage a 2-2 draw with Bahia.

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