Brazilian League Roundup, Mar 27

Goalkeeper Rogerio Ceni converted a free-kick to score his 100th goal on Sunday, helping Sao Paulo defeat Corinthians 2-1 in the Sao Paulo state championship.

Ceni struck a perfect right-footed shot over the wall, curling the ball into the top right corner past goalkeeper Julio Cesar in the 54th minute at the Arena Barueri.

”It was beautiful,” said Ceni, who was the third goalkeeper in Brazil’s squad when it won the 2002 World Cup. ”As a goalkeeper you don’t enter the match thinking about scoring a goal, but it happened just as I wanted: with a free-kick, deciding an important match. For me, it doesn’t matter that it was against Corinthians, but for the fans it must have been important.”

It was Ceni’s 56th goal from a free-kick, while the others have come from penalties.

FIFA says Ceni has 98 goals, but the goalkeeper counts two he scored in unofficial friendlies – one against a combined Santos and Flamengo team in 1998 and the other against Russian club Uralan Elista in an exhibition tournament in 2000. Even by FIFA’s count, he is the goalkeeper with the most goals ever scored.

Ceni’s goal on Sunday also meant a lot for Sao Paulo, allowing the club to end an 11-match winless streak against Corinthians, the team’s biggest rival. Sao Paulo hadn’t beaten Corinthians since February 2007.

Forward Dagoberto had opened the scoring for Sao Paulo with a shot from outside the area in the 39th, and striker Dentinho scored for Corinthians with a long-range shot in the 67th.

Corinthians had two players sent off because of hard fouls – right back Alessandro in the 63rd and Dentinho in the 72nd. Sao Paulo striker Dagoberto was sent off in the 68th, also because of a dangerous tackle.

Corinthians is set to officially announce the signing of former Brazil striker Adriano in the coming days, while Sao Paulo will introduce striker Luis Fabiano to its fans on Tuesday.

The draw between Corinthians and Sao Paulo allowed Luiz Felipe Scolari’s Palmeiras to take the lead in the 20-team standings after it beat Bragantino 3-0 on Saturday.

Palmeiras has one point more than Sao Paulo, Corinthians and Santos after 16 rounds. Santos stayed close by beating Ituano 3-2 in Itu despite the absence of striker Neymar, who scored twice in Brazil’s 2-0 win over Scotland in a friendly in London on Sunday.

The top eight clubs will reach the tournament’s quarterfinals. There are three rounds left in the group stage.

Defender Thiago Heleno scored twice for Palmeiras at Caninde stadium. The 2008 Sao Paulo state champion, Palmeiras has the tournament’s best defense with only six goals conceded. It is still playing without Chile midfielder Jorge Valdivia because of injury.

In the Rio Cup, the second stage of the Rio de Janeiro state tournament, Flamengo drew 3-3 with Madureira at Engenhao stadium thanks to an 83rd-minute goal by playmaker Thiago Neves. Flamengo, which fielded Ronaldinho from the start, had to come from behind after trailing 3-1 in the second half.

Flamengo has already qualified for the state tournament’s final because it won the Guanabara Cup, the competition’s first stage.

Fluminense and Vasco drew 0-0 at the Engenhao. On Saturday, visiting Botafogo was held by Boavista to a 0-0 draw to mark the debut of coach Caio Jr., who replaced former South Africa manager Joel Santana. Santana resigned saying he was unhappy with the constant complaints from fans.