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Inter draws Criciuma 0-0 to keep Brazilian league lead; Corinthians loses in stadium opener

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SAO PAULO - Internacional stayed ahead in the Brazilian league despite a 0-0 draw against a 10-man Criciuma on Sunday, while struggling Figueirense stunned Corinthians 1-0 in the inaugural match at the stadium that will host the World Cup opener next month.

In the final test match at the Arena Pantanal in Cuiaba, Atletico Mineiro beat Santos 2-1 for its second win of the championship.

Internacional reached 11 points with the result at Criciuma, which had a defender sent off for elbowing an opponent late in the first half.

Internacional is one of two teams still unbeaten, along with Sao Paulo, which defeated Flamengo 2-0 with goals by playmaker Paulo Henrique Ganso at the Maracana Stadium.

Behind Inter in the 20-team standings are Brazilian champion Cruzeiro, Gremio and Goias, each with 10 points.

Corinthians' debut at its new stadium couldn't have been more disappointing to the nearly 40,000 fans that attended the match.

Figueirense had lost its first four matches and was yet to score a goal until midfielder Giovanni Augusto netted three minutes into the second half. Figueirense also had a goal disallowed after it was ruled offside in the 57th.

Corinthians, which hadn't lost in nine matches, complained of a first half penalty not called by the referee after a play by striker Paolo Guerrero inside the area.

"Nobody wanted to open this stadium with a loss, but it's football, we have to try to forget about it and move on," Corinthians midfielder Jadson said.

Copa Libertadores champion Atletico Mineiro got the victory over Santos at the Arena Pantanal with two second-half goals by former Santos striker Andre. The result gave Santos its first loss of the championship.

Also Sunday, playmaker Paulo Henrique Ganso scored a goal in each half to help Sao Paulo defeat Flamengo 2-0 at the Maracana in Rio de Janeiro. Flamengo, debuting coach Ney Franco, has lost three of its last four matches.

In Porto Alegre, Gremio beat Fluminense 1-0 with a 37th-minute goal by recently signed midfielder Rodriguinho at the Arena Gremio. Fluminense striker Fred, Brazil's likely starter at the World Cup, was red carded midway through the second half after grabbing an opponent by the neck.

Palmeiras beat Vitoria 1-0 in Salvador for its second win in a row, while Atletico Paranaense drew Chapecoense 1-1 in a match delayed for nearly 20 minutes because there was no ambulance in the stadium.

On Saturday, Cruzeiro beat winless Coritiba 3-2 at the Mineirao Stadium to rebound from its elimination to Argentina's San Lorenzo in the Copa Libertadores on Wednesday. The team had also lost to rival Atletico Mineiro in its previous Brazilian league match last weekend.

The match between Sport and Bahia in the World Cup host city of Recife was postponed because of a strike by local police officers.

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Tales Azzoni on Twitter: http://twitter.com/tazzoni

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