Goalkeeper Rogerio Ceni scored his first goal in more than a year and defending champion Sao Paulo defeated Santos 4-3 to get back in contention for the Brazilian league title on Sunday.
Sao Paulo, seeking its fourth consecutive title, remains fourth in the standings, but only two points behind leader Palmeiras, which lost for the third straight time earlier in the week.
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Third-place Internacional beat rival Gremio 1-0 behind a goal by Argentine midfielder Andres D’Alessandro and is also two points back, while second-place Atletico Mineiro got past Vitoria 1-0 on Saturday to stay only one point behind Palmeiras with seven rounds to go.
A goal by Brazil striker Adriano gave fifth-placed Flamengo a 1-0 win over Botafogo that moved it to within three points of the lead.
Palmeiras had a comfortable five-point lead to the rest of the teams just two rounds ago, but now it is in jeopardy of failing to win its first national title since 1994.
Ceni scored his 84th career goal with a free kick in the 68th minute at Vila Belmiro stadium, giving Sao Paulo its first victory after two consecutive losses. Ceni hadn’t scored a goal since Oct. 19, 2008, in a match against Palmeiras.
Santos opened the scoring with striker Andre in the sixth before midfielder Hernanes equalized for Sao Paulo with a powerful right-footed free kick in the 12th. Midfielder Rodrigo Souto put Santos back on top in the 26th, but striker Washington leveled the score again in the 38th.
Playmaker Jorge Wagner gave Sao Paulo the lead from close range in the 59th, and substitute striker Robson equalized with a header in the 66th before Ceni sealed Sao Paulo’s win.
The prolific goalkeeper was ejected in the 77th after a foul on Santos substitute striker Jean.
The result kept Santos winless in three matches, and the team coached by former Real Madrid coach Vanderlei Luxemburgo dropped to 13th in the standings.
In Rio de Janeiro, Adriano scored in the 32nd to give Flamengo a 1-0 win over rival Botafogo at Engenhao stadium, extending the team’s unbeaten streak to 10 matches and keeping it in contention for its sixth national title. Flamengo hasn’t lost a match since a 3-0 result against Avai on Aug. 23.
Botafogo, which dropped to the relegation zone with the loss, had a penalty kick in the 68th, but Flamengo goalkeeper Bruno stopped the shot taken by midfielder Lucio Flavio.
Internacional’s hopes for its first title since 1979 were kept alive with a 1-0 win over Porto Alegre rival Gremio 1-0 at Beira-Rio stadium. D’Alessandro scored the winner with a strong shot from outside the area in the third minute.
Atletico Mineiro, which hasn’t won the title since 1971, moved closer to the lead by edging Vitoria on Saturday in front of nearly 60,000 fans at Mineirao stadium in Belo Horizonte.
Brazil striker Diego Tardelli scored his league-leading 16th goal in the 27th to give Atletico its second win in a row. Tardelli had a chance to add another goal in the second half but sent his 75th-minute penalty kick wide.
Palmeiras saw its lead shrink after a 2-0 defeat at Santo Andre on Wednesday, a result that also extended its winless streak to four matches.
Coritiba beat rival Atletico Paranaense 3-2 in Curitiba with an injury-time goal by substitute midfielder Marcos Aurelio on Sunday. Coritiba’s Argentine striker Ariel Nahuelpan scored an own goal to open the scoring for Atletico at Couto Pereira stadium, but two minutes later he made amends by putting his own team on the board.
Fluminense erased a two-goal deficit to draw Goias 2-2 in Goiania, but it remains last in the 20-team standings and in serious danger of being relegated.
In other results, Corinthians lost 1-0 to Cruzeiro at Pacaembu stadium in Sao Paulo, while Avai drew 2-2 with Sport in Florianopolis.