SAO PAULO - Clarence Seedorf helped Botafogo regain the Brazilian league lead by setting up two goals in the team's 3-1 win over Portuguesa on Sunday.
Botafogo scored all its goals in the second half to end a three-match winless run and open a one-point advantage over Cruzeiro, which thrashed Vitoria 5-1 on Saturday.
Gremio stayed close in third place by beating Vasco da Gama 3-2 with two goals by Argentine striker Hernan Barcos on Saturday. Club world champion Corinthians moved to within striking range in fourth place thanks to a controversial late penalty converted by Peru striker Paolo Guerrero in a 1-0 win over Coritiba on Sunday.
Defending champion Fluminense ended a four-match winless run by beating last-place Nautico 1-0 on Saturday, moving farther from relegation zone. Six-time Brazilian champion Sao Paulo, second-to-last in the 20-team standings, had its winless streak extended to 12 matches after former Brazil midfielder Jadson missed an 88th-minute penalty in the team's 0-0 draw with Flamengo.
Led by Seedorf, Botafogo struggled against Portuguesa but was able to escape with victory after a solid second-half performance at the Caninde Stadium in Sao Paulo. The 1995 champion hadn't won since a 3-2 result against Vasco da Gama on Aug. 4.
Seedorf took the free kick that led to defender Bolivar's header in the 65th minute to open the score at the Caninde. Portuguesa equalized with Luis Ricardo in the 70th, but just a minute later striker Rafael Marques put Botafogo ahead again with a powerful shot from inside the area.
The Dutch midfielder then cleared two defenders outside the area in the 76th before making a beautiful pass to substitute Elias, who fired a low shot to seal the victory. Portuguesa, which had goal disallowed because of offside in the 61st, remained in relegation zone with 13 points from 15 matches. Botafogo reached 29 points.
Cruzeiro got to 28 points with the easy 5-1 win over Vitoria at the Mineirao Stadium in Belo Horizonte. Also Saturday, Barcos scored five minutes into the first half and five minutes into the second to help Gremio get past Vasco at the Sao Januario Stadium in Rio, a result that kept the Porto Alegre team just four points from the lead.
Corinthians stayed close in the standings — also four points behind Botafogo — thanks to Guerrero's penalty kick in the 90th minute at the Pacaembu Stadium in Sao Paulo. The penalty call was loudly contested by Coritiba players who contended that it was a normal shoulder-to-shoulder ball dispute that led to Corinthians midfielder Danilo going down just at the edge of the box.
Coritiba players and coaches charged toward the referee after the match ended. The result dropped the team led by former Brazil and Fenerbahce playmaker Alex to sixth place. Alex didn't play because he is nursing a muscle injury.
In Brasilia, Sao Paulo was close to finally halting a 12-match winless streak but Jadson had his penalty shot saved by Flamengo goalkeeper Felipe just before the final whistle at the Estadio Nacional. Sao Paulo hasn't won since the second round and is only 19th in the standings with 11 points from 14 matches. Flamengo remained stuck in the middle of the table with 19 points.
Fluminense got to within a point of the Rio de Janeiro rival by defeating last-place Nautico 1-0 on Saturday. Young forward Samuel scored the winner by clearing two defenders inside the area before finding the net.
In late matches Sunday, Atletico Paranaense beat Criciuma 2-1 in Curitiba to move to fifth in the standings, while eighth place Internacional failed to get past a 0-0 home draw with 10-man Atletico Mineiro. The Copa Libertadores champion had midfielder Fernandinho sent off in the 36th for a hard foul on an opponent. Ronaldinho's Atletico Mineiro, only 14th on the table, also had goalkeeper Victor shown a red card after the final whistle for kicking the ball toward Internacional fans.
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