SAO PAULO (AP) — Defending champion Cruzeiro scored three times in the first half Sunday to beat struggling Flamengo 3-0 and reach the World Cup break atop the Brazilian league standings.
Midfielder Ricardo Goulart opened the scoring in the 15th minute, striker Everton Ribeiro added to the lead in the 18th and forward Borges netted in the 45th to give Cruzeiro its fourth win in the last five matches.
The loss dropped Flamengo to second-to-last place in the 20-team standings. Brazil's most popular club has won only one of is nine matches so far.
Cruzeiro will return from the World Cup break with 19 points, three more than Fluminense, Corinthians, Sao Paulo and Internacional.
Fluminense lost a chance to stay closer to the leader after a 1-1 draw with Internacional in Macae, while Corinthians conceded a late equalizer in a 1-1 draw against Botafogo in the final test match at its Itaquerao stadium before the World Cup opener on June 12.
Sao Paulo defeated Gremio 2-1 on Saturday at the Morumbi Stadium thanks to goals by former Brazil striker Luis Fabiano and recently signed Colombian Dorlan Pabon.