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.
Sixth-place Gremio was held by Palmeiras to a 0-0 draw in Caxias do Sul. Palmeiras, which will be coached by Argentine manager Ricardo Garega after the World Cup, had a goal mistakenly disallowed after being ruled offside in the second half.
Also Sunday, Douglas Coutinho scored three times in Atletico Paranaense's 3-1 victory over last-place Figueirense in Florianopolis, while Santos won its second in a row by beating Criciuma 2-0 in Sao Bernardo.
Newcomer Chapecoense defeated Bahia 2-1 in Chapeco to win its second match in the last three rounds.
On Saturday, Coritiba beat Goias 3-0 for won its first win of the championship. Former Brazil playmaker Alex and former Barcelona player Keirrison scored a goal each in the first 15 minutes of the match in Curitiba.
Only nine rounds were played before the World Cup break. The tournament resumes on July 16 and will end in December.
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