Fluminense scored twice in the first 20 minutes to beat Gremio 2-1 on Sunday, extending its unbeaten streak to 10 matches and staying atop the Brazilian league.
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Midfielder Mariano opened the scoring at Olimpico Stadium with a free kick in the 17th minute and striker Emerson doubled the lead in the 19th after getting past two defenders inside the penalty area. Gremio’s lone goal came via striker Andre Lima in the 89th.
Led by three-time Brazilian champion Muricy Ramalho, Fluminense hasn’t lost since a 1-0 setback against Corinthians on May 23. The 1984 national champion has won four of its last five matches.
Two-time champion Gremio is winless in eight rounds, and Sunday’s home loss cost coach Silas his job. The team remains only 18th in the 20-club standings, inside relegation zone.
Fluminense got its league-leading ninth win despite playing a man down from the 62nd after midfielder Fernando picked up his second yellow card. The Rio de Janeiro club also was without former Chelsea midfielder Deco, who was signed on Saturday but is not yet fit to play.
Fluminense has 29 points, one more than second-place Corinthians, which stayed close by beating defending champion Flamengo 1-0 at Pacaembu stadium in Sao Paulo. Midfielder Elias scored the winner with a right-footer from the top of the area in the 39th for Corinthians, dropping Flamengo – winless in four matches – to 10th on the table.
It was Corinthians’ first win under Adilson Batista, who has replaced new Brazil coach Mano Menezes.
Corinthians rival Palmeiras allowed a 90th-minute equalizer in a 1-1 draw with Goias in Goiania, remaining winless since World Cup-winning coach Luiz Felipe Scolari took over five rounds ago. Palmeiras beat Santos 2-1 when Scolari had already signed with the four-time champion, but the coach hadn’t taken over for that match.
Seeking its first Brazilian league title since 1994, Palmeiras dropped to 13th in the standings after Sunday’s result and is 13 points off the lead.
Six-time champion Sao Paulo, coming off a disappointing elimination to Internacional in the semifinals of the Copa Libertadores on Thursday, was held to a 1-1 draw with Atletico Paranaense 1-1 in Curitiba despite playing a one-man advantage from the 73rd.
Also Sunday, third-place Ceara was held to a scoreless draw by last-place Atletico Goianiense in Fortaleza, while fifth-place Cruzeiro also failed to get past a 0-0 result with Prudente in Ipatinga. Vasco won for the third time in five matches with a 1-0 victory over Vitoria in Rio.
On Saturday, Botafogo routed Atletico Mineiro 3-0 at Engenhao Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, extending its unbeaten streak to five matches and moving to eighth in the standings. Atletico Mineiro, led by former Real Madrid coach Vanderlei Luxemburgo, hasn’t won in five rounds and remains second-to-last on the table, in relegation zone.
In Campinas, Guarani halted a five-match winless streak with a 4-1 victory over sixth-place Avai, which hadn’t lost in five matches.
The match between seventh-place Santos and fourth-place Internacional was postponed because Internacional had to travel to Mexico to face Guadalajara in the final of the Copa Libertadores on Wednesday.