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Ronaldo scores first goal since breaking hand

RONALDO took advantage of a defensive blunder to score his first goal since breaking his hand more than two months ago, helping Corinthians hold defending champion Sao Paulo to a 1-1 draw in the Brazilian league yesterday.

The result drops Sao Paulo, the six-time champion, from second to third in the standings, five points behind leader Palmeiras. Goias defeated Gremio 2-1 at home to move into second place, also five points behind.

Palmeiras increased its advantage by beating Atletico Paranaense 2-1 at home on Saturday.

Fluminense edged Avai 3-2 at Maracana stadium to win for the first time in 11 matches, but it remained last in the 20-team standings, in serious danger of being relegated to the second division.

At Morumbi, Ronaldo scored in the 20th minute after a mistake by Sao Paulo defender Andre Dias, who didn't realize that goalkeeper Bosco was not in his goal and gave the ball away to Ronaldo in front of an open net.

Sao Paulo, seeking its third straight title, equalized with a shot by substitute striker Washington in the 70th. Washington was sent off in the 90th for complaining about a foul, prompting a second yellow card after he had already earned one for taking off his jersey when celebrating his goal.

It was Ronaldo's second match since breaking his hand on July 26 in a match against Palmeiras. He had been held scoreless in Corinthians 4-1 home loss to Goias last weekend. He had a chance to score another goal prior to Sao Paulo's equalizer on Sunday, but he was caught from behind by a defender just before being able to get a shot on goal.

Still not fully fit, the 33-year-old striker was substituted in the 77th.

The match also marked the debut of 20-year-old Argentine midfielder Matias Defederico for Corinthians. He has been dubbed the new Lionel Messi by local fans, but had a quiet game and was substituted in the 61st.

Sao Paulo played without captain and goalkeeper Rogerio Ceni, who was withdrawn from the lineup just moments before the match because of a left-leg muscle injury.

Sao Paulo has not beaten Corinthians for eight-matches.

Local media reported Sao Paulo fans threw rocks at Corinthians' bus before the match, causing some damage to the vehicle. But there were no reports of injury.

Palmeiras increased its lead with the victory against Atletico Paranaense at Palestra Italia stadium in Sao Paulo. Chilean right back Luis Pedro Figueroa scored his first goal for Palmeiras in the 42nd and defender Danilo sealed the victory in the 70th. Midfielder Chico put Atletico Paranaense on the board in the 63rd.

Danilo, on a loan from Atletico Paranaense, had a clause in his contract prohibiting him from playing against his former team. But that was overturned just hours before the match when Palmeiras reached a deal to allow the defender to play by paying about $55,000 to Atletico.

Atletico dropped to 14th place in the standings with the loss.

Goias took advantage of an 81st-minute goal by striker Felipe to rally and beat Gremio 2-1 at Serra Dourada stadium in Goiania, moving into second place and remaining in contention for the title.

Fourth-place Internacional missed an opportunity to claim sole possession of second place by drawing with Flamengo at a drenched field at the Beira-Rio stadium in Porto Alegre, extending its winless streak to four matches.

Fifth-place Atletico Mineiro remained close to the leaders with a 3-1 win over Santos behind a pair of goals by Brazil striker Diego Tardelli at Mineirao stadium in Belo Horizonte.

Fluminense snapped its 11-match winless streak with a 58th-minute winner by midfielder Alan at Maracana. The club hadn't won since a 5-1 victory over Sport on Aug. 6.

Sunday's victory briefly moved Fluminense out of last place, but Sport defeated Santo Andre 2-1 in Recife later in the day to drop the Rio club back to the bottom of the standings.

Fluminense rival Botafogo also remained in the relegation zone after a disappointing 3-1 home loss to Vitoria at the Engenhao stadium.

Also Saturday, Cruzeiro beat Barueri 1-0 in Barueri courtesy of a goal by World Cup veteran left back Gilberto.


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