Cruzeiro downs Internacional in summit battle

Sao Paulo, Brazil ( - Cruzeiro climbed nine points clear at the top of the Brasileiro table following a 2-1 home win over second-place Internacional.

The visitors entered the contest on a five-game unbeaten run, but Cruzeiro seized the advantage with a goal from Marcelo Moreno in the 20th minute while Marquinhos added a second tally before halftime.

Alex pulled a goal back for Internacional in the 56th, but Cruzeiro held on to extend its lead at the top of the league with 12 games to play.

A failed clearance 20 minutes into the match led to Moreno's opening goal as he pounced on the loose ball and ripped a shot past goalkeeper Dida from outside the box for his 13th goal of the season.

Everton Ribeiro then set up the second goal in the 34th when his cross was volleyed home by Marquinhos, giving the hosts a 2-0 lead at halftime.

Willian squandered a good chance to add to that lead when he fired a penalty kick over the net, while Alex made the most of a free kick opportunity to make it 2-1.

However, the visitors came up short, and they now sit one point clear of third-place Sao Paulo, which won 1-0 at Gremio thanks to a penalty kick from goalkeeper Rogerio Ceni in the 55th minute.

Atletico Mineiro had a four-game winning streak come to an end at the hands of Criciuma, which used two goals from Souza to claim a 3-1 win, while Palmeiras got a second-half hat trick from Henrique in a 4-2 triumph over Chapecoense.

Robinho's first-half goal was enough to give Santos a 1-0 win at Flamengo, Bahia earned a 1-1 draw at Fluminense thanks to an 83rd-minute equalizer from Marcos Aurelio, Marcinho scored twice in the second half to lift Vitoria to a 2-1 win over Botafogo, Coritiba topped Atletico PR, 1-0, behind Helder's 46th- minute goal, Corinthians handled Sport Recife, 3-0, and Goias edged Figueirense, 1-0, with Ramon netting the lone goal in the first half.