SAO PAULO — Goalkeeper Rogerio Ceni converted a first-half penalty to help Sao Paulo defeat Cruzeiro 2-0 and move within four points of the defending champion in the Brazilian league on Sunday.
Striker Alan Kardec scored the other goal in the high-profile match between the league's top two teams at a packed Morumbi Stadium.
The result in front of a crowd of nearly 60,000 gave Sao Paulo its third win in a row and snapped Cruzeiro's 12-match unbeaten streak in the league.
With the championship just past its halfway point, the victory was crucial for Sao Paulo to keep pressure on its rival. Cruzeiro, seeking its fourth national title, has been atop the 20-team standings since the sixth round.
Led by former Brazil players Kaka and Alexandre Pato, Sao Paulo hasn't lost in nine matches.
Ceni scored from the penalty spot in the 36th minute after playmaker Paulo Henrique Ganso was fouled inside the area by defender Dede. Kardec sealed the victory with a close-range shot after a corner in the 72nd.
Third-place Internacional pulled within nine points of Cruzeiro by beating Botafogo 2-0 at the Beira-Rio Stadium in Porto Alegre, while Corinthians missed a chance to move closer to the lead after a 1-0 loss to Flamengo in front of nearly 40,000 at the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro. Brazilian-born Croatia striker Eduardo da Silva missed a penalty for Flamengo late in the game.
Bahia beat Figueirense 3-0 in a match in which police detained a few fans following a confrontation in the stands before kickoff. Argentine striker Maxi Biancucchi scored one of the goals for Bahia, which remain in relegation zone despite the win, its first in six matches.
On Saturday, sixth-place Fluminense jumped to fourth place by beating Palmeiras 3-0 with two goals by former Brazil striker Fred and one by Argentine playmaker Dario Conca at the Maracana.
Robinho scored a remarkable goal in Santos' 2-1 home victory over Coritiba at the Vila Belmiro Stadium, flicking the ball over the goalkeeper from just outside the area.
Newcomer Chapecoense edged Sport 3-1 in Chapeco to move farther from relegation zone.
Follow Tales Azzoni at http://www.twitter.com/tazzoni