SAO PAULO - Cruzeiro scored four goals in the first half to rout Portuguesa 4-0 on Wednesday, continuing its remarkable campaign in the Brazilian league as it aims to win its first title since 2003.
Striker Borges scored twice to help give Cruzeiro its 10th victory in its last 11 matches. The club has an 11-point lead over Gremio, which didn't lose ground after a tight 1-0 home win over fourth-place Atletico Paranaense. Paraguayan midfielder Cristian Riveros scored Gremio's winner.
Third-place Botafogo, 13 points back with 13 rounds left, couldn't manage more than a 1-1 draw with Rio de Janeiro rival and defending Brazilian champion Fluminense.
Cruzeiro had another impressive performance as it picked up its 17th win on Wednesday, outplaying Portuguesa from the start at the Mineirao Stadium in Belo Horizonte to reach 56 points on the season.
The team's only setback recently was a 0-0 away draw against club world champion Corinthians on Sept. 22. Cruzeiro hasn't lost since a 2-1 result against Gremio on Aug. 14. It has scored 54 goals in 25 matches, conceding only 20.
"Another great match, another step in the right direction," forward Everton Ribeiro said.
Ribeiro opened the scoring just five minutes into the match. Borges followed with his first goal in the 16th and Willian made it 3-0 in the 28th. Borges' second goal closed out the first-half scoring in the 30th.
Cruzeiro's dominance is reminiscent of the team's campaign when it won its second national title in 2003. It was the first time the championship was played in a league format, with every team playing each other twice, and Cruzeiro cruised to the title.
Gremio stayed in pursuit thanks to its victory against Atletico Paranaense in Porto Alegre, its second in a row. Riveros scored the winner just before halftime.
It was Atletico Paranaense's second straight loss. Defender Luiz Alberto was red-carded in the 68th and defender Pedro Botelho was sent off in the 83rd.
Corinthians ended an eight-match winless streak by beating Bahia 2-0 with a goal by Peruvian striker Paolo Guerrero, while six-time Brazilian champion Sao Paulo lost 3-0 at 10-man Santos to remain in danger of demotion.
It was Sao Paulo's third loss in a row after winning three straight following the return of coach Muricy Ramalho.
Vasco da Gama hosts Internacional on Thursday, and with a win, can switch places with Sao Paulo near the bottom of the table.
Also Wednesday, Argentine midfielder Damian Escudero scored in Vitoria's 2-1 home win against Goias, while Flamengo defeated Coritiba 2-0.
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