The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION
Cruzeiro loses 2-1 to Coritiba in Brazilian league, has its lead cut to 9 points
SAO PAULO - Cruzeiro's lead in the Brazilian league has been cut to nine points after a 2-1 loss to struggling Coritiba on Sunday, its third defeat in four matches
Former Barcelona striker Keirrison scored Coritiba's winner in the 73rd minute, handing Cruzeiro its sixth loss of the tournament and keeping it stuck on 62 points with eight rounds remaining.
The leading margin could have closed even more, but all of Cruzeiro's closest pursuers failed to win: second-place Gremio drew 2-2 with rival Internacional, third-place Atletico Paranaense lost 3-0 at Goias and fourth-place Botafogo relinquished a two-goal lead in a 2-2 draw against Rio de Janeiro rival Vasco da Gama.
Gremio, which has won only one of its last four matches, has 53 points, two more than Atletico Paranaense and three more than Botafogo. Goias, winner of four in a row, moved to fifth place with 46 points.
Defending champion Fluminense drew 1-1 with next-to-last Ponte Preta on Saturday, extending its winless streak to six matches and remaining in danger of relegation.
There were instances of fan fighting in several venues, marking the third weekend in a row that World Cup host Brazil has had to deal with fan violence. Goias fans confronted police at the Serra Dourada Stadium in Goiania on Sunday, while Gremio and Internacional supporters fought before the match at the Beira-Rio Stadium in Porto Alegre. On Friday, a second-division match in Belem was stopped when fans threw rocks and explosives on the field. No serious injuries were reported.
Some of the fan fighting happened in the Cruzeiro match last weekend in Belo Horizonte, which could lead to loss of home-field advantage to the team in the final stretch. And the problems on the field continued against Coritiba, which opened the scoring with Carlinhos in the 41st minute at the Couto Pereira Stadium on Sunday. Dagoberto equalized in 62nd, but Keirrison scored with a header to give 14th-place Coritiba the victory after two straight losses.
Keirrison left Brazilian football for Barcelona touted as a promising star but never made it in Europe. He failed to achieve much success in his return to Brazil and hadn't scored a goal in more than two years.
Cruzeiro, seeking its first Brazilian title since 2003, had lost to Sao Paulo and Atletico Mineiro before beating Fluminense on Wednesday.
Fluminense also continued to struggle, unable to win since a 2-1 result against Goias on Sept. 28. The draw against Ponte Preta on Saturday came only thanks to an own goal in the 85th minute at the Maracana, where Fluminense has earned only three points in the last three matches. The defending champion is 15th in the 20-team standings with 36 points, only three out of relegation zone.
Vasco da Gama remained in the demotion area despite erasing a two-goal deficit against Botafogo at the Maracana on Sunday. Clarence Seedorf's Botafogo scored twice in the first seven minutes, including a goal to Uruguayan striker Nicolas Lodeiro, but Vasco rallied with second-half goals to salvage the draw. The four-time Brazilian champion remains 17th in the standings with 33 points.
Six-time champion Sao Paulo moved farther from relegation with a 1-0 win over Bahia in Salvador. Sao Paulo got the victory — its fourth in five matches — despite having players red carded in the 34th and 78th minutes.
Club world champion Corinthians, just below Sao Paulo, ended a four-match winless streak by beating Criciuma 1-0 on Saturday with former AC Milan striker Alexandre Pato scoring the winner.
Argentine midfielder Andres D'Alessandro scored for Internacional and Chilean playmaker Eduardo Vargas netted for Gremio as the teams drew 2-2 in Caxias do Sul. Defending Copa Libertadores Atletico Mineiro, still without injured Ronaldinho, beat Flamengo 1-0 in Belo Horizonte. In Sao Paulo, Paraguayan midfielder Luis Caceres scored for seventh-place Vitoria in a 1-1 draw against Portuguesa.
Before nearly every match, teams huddled at midfield to support a players' movement aimed at improving the local football calendar. The players have been making a series of demands to the Brazilian football federation, including for more vacation time between seasons.
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