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Cruzeiro loses 3-2 to rival Atletico Mineiro, misses chance to increase Brazilian league lead


SAO PAULO — Cruzeiro conceded a late goal in a 3-2 loss to rival Atletico Mineiro on Sunday, missing a chance to increase its lead in the Brazilian league.

The defending champions erased a two-goal deficit, but lost in the end after young Atletico Mineiro striker Carlos scored with a header two minutes into injury time at the Mineirao Stadium in Belo Horizonte.

Cruzeiro could have added to its seven-point lead because second-place Sao Paulo fell 3-2 to Corinthians after twice relinquishing a lead at the Arena Corinthians. Peru striker Paolo Guerrero scored Corinthians' winner in the 74th minute.

Third-place Internacional defeated Atletico Paranaense 1-0 in Curitiba on Saturday to get within eight points of Cruzeiro atop the 20-team standings, and fourth-place Corinthians is now nine points back from the lead after 23 of 38 matches.

Cruzeiro, the competition's leader since the sixth round, has 49 points from 15 wins and four draws. Atletico Mineiro jumped to sixth place with the victory against its city rival.

Also Sunday, Gremio beat Chapecoense 1-0 in Porto Alegre to move to fifth place in the standings, while Santos defeated Figueirense 3-1 with a goal by former Brazil striker Leandro Damiao.

Carlos and striker Diego Tardelli scored goals two minutes apart for Atletico Mineiro late in the first half, but Cruzeiro recovered with a goal by forward Ricardo Goulart just before halftime and another by youngster Alisson in the 57th. Carlos' late goal in front of more than 51,000 fans — mostly from Cruzeiro — gave Atletico Mineiro its second consecutive win.

It was only the fourth loss for Cruzeiro in the league this year, but the second in its last three matches. Seeking its fourth national title, Cruzeiro had won all of its nine league matches at the Mineirao coming into Sunday.

Sao Paulo missed its chance to move closer to the lead despite leading rival Corinthians 1-0 and 2-1 at the Arena Corinthians. The team's second loss in a row came without striker Alexandre Pato, who is with the club on a loan from Corinthians and was not allowed to play.

Defender Fabio Santos scored twice from the penalty spot for Corinthians, including after left back Alvaro Pereira fouled Guerrero inside the area in the 63rd, prompting an immediate red card for the Uruguayan.

At the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazilian born Croatia striker Eduardo da Silva gave Flamengo the lead in the 27th, but former Brazil forward Fred netted the equalizer for seventh-place Fluminense with a header in the 45th.

In Goiania, eight-time national champion Palmeiras was trounced 6-0 by Goias, dropping to last place. It was one of the worst-ever losses for the team, which is celebrating its centennial this year.

Palmeiras was without Chile playmaker Jorge Valdivia, who received a red card for stepping on an opponent in the team's 2-2 draw with Flamengo on Wednesday. Brazil's sports tribunal says he will face a 12-match suspension.

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