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Defending champion Cruzeiro wins again, opens 7-point lead atop Brazilian league

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SAO PAULO — Cruzeiro scored late to beat Vitoria 1-0 on Sunday, ending a two-match losing streak and increasing its lead to seven points in the Brazilian league.

Defender Dede scored the winner with an 84th-minute header at the Barradao Stadium in Salvador, leaving the defending champion with a comfortable lead with nine rounds left in the competition.

Sao Paulo moved to second place by beating Bahia 2-1 on Saturday, while Internacional dropped nine points back in third place after losing 2-1 to Corinthians at home on Sunday. Peru striker Paolo Guerrero scored one of Corinthians' goals at the Beira-Rio Stadium.

Before Santos beat Palmeiras 3-1 at the Pacaembu Stadium in Sao Paulo, a 21-year-old man died after a confrontation between rival fan groups. Authorities said the man was run over by a car after he and other Palmeiras fans went onto a major highway to try to ambush two buses carrying Santos supporters. Four fans remained hospitalized, including one with a gunshot wound. Their condition wasn't immediately available.

Cruzeiro has been atop the standings since the sixth round, but came into the weekend under pressure after consecutive losses to Corinthians and Flamengo.

It dominated against struggling Vitoria and created many scoring opportunities despite being the visitors, and Dede finally found the net with a diving header from just six meters (yards) away. Dede had scored an own goal in Cruzeiro's 3-0 loss at Flamengo last Sunday.

Vitoria, which hadn't lost in three matches, is just one spot out of relegation zone.

Sao Paulo stayed within range of Cruzeiro thanks to goals by playmaker Paulo Henrique Ganso and goalkeeper Rogerio Ceni, who netted with a well-struck free kick in the win over Bahia at the Morumbi Stadium on Saturday.

Internacional lost ground after its third defeat in four matches. Corinthians jumped to a 2-0 lead with first-half goals by Guerrero and defender Gil, and Inter only got on the board with striker Nilmar in the 74th at a packed Beira-Rio in Porto Alegre.

Corinthians coach Mano Menezes, a former Brazil manager, was under pressure after the team was eliminated by Atletico Mineiro in the quarterfinals of the Brazilian Cup on Wednesday despite a 2-0 first-leg lead. The team lost the return match 4-1. Corinthians is fifth in the 20-team standings, 10 points from the lead.

Atletico Mineiro moved to fourth place, nine points back, by beating Chapecoense 1-0 at the Independencia Stadium in Belo Horizonte on Saturday. On the same day, sixth-place Gremio drew Goias 0-0 in Goiania and Fluminense defeated Criciuma 4-2 at the Maracana Stadium with a goal by striker Fred and another by Argentine playmaker Dario Conca.

Brazilian born Croatia striker Eduardo da Silva scored in Flamengo's 2-1 loss at Atletico Paranaense in Curitiba, while struggling Botafogo remained in relegation zone after a 1-1 home draw against Sport.


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