- Associated Press - Sunday, November 2, 2014

SAO PAULO (AP) - Cruzeiro scored twice in the first 15 minutes and held on to defeat Botafogo 2-1 in the Brazilian league on Sunday, maintaining a five-point lead over second-place Sao Paulo going into the competition’s final rounds.

Sao Paulo stayed within range with six matches remaining thanks to a late 2-1 victory at last-place Criciuma.

Third-place Internacional remained eight points back from the lead by beating Santos 2-1 with both goals by Chile midfielder Charles Aranguiz at the Vila Belmiro Stadium in Santos.

Four teams are 10 points back - Fluminense, Atletico Mineiro, Gremio and Corinthians.

Forward Marquinhos opened the scoring for Cruzeiro just five minutes into the match at the Mineirao Stadium in Belo Horizonte, and left back Egidio added to the lead with a 15th-minute free kick.

Botafogo, which stayed in relegation zone with the loss, scored its lone goal in second-half injury time.

Cruzeiro reached 64 points from 32 matches with the victory, its 19th in the competition. The defending champion had drawn twice in a row entering the weekend.

“We have to find a way to keep this same pace until the end to keep this lead and lift the trophy again,” Cruzeiro forward Everton Ribeiro said.

Sao Paulo striker Alan Kardec scored with a header in the 83rd minute to give his club the victory at the Heriberto Hulse Stadium in Criciuma, leaving the home team last in the 20-team standings with 20 points.

Internacional picked up its first ever win at the Vila Belmiro Stadium on Sunday. One of Aranguiz’s goals came after a pass from Argentine playmaker Andres D’Alessandro.

On Saturday, striker Fred and Argentine midfielder Dario Conca scored a goal each to help Fluminense beat Goias 2-0 and reach fourth place in the standings. It was the fourth win in a row for Fluminense, the Brazilian champion in 2010 and 2012.

Sixth-place Gremio edged Vitoria 1-0 at the Arena Gremio in Porto Alegre, while seventh-place Corinthians missed a chance to move closer after a 2-2 home draw with Coritiba. Corinthians was losing 2-0 at halftime and only equalized in the last minute of injury time. Former Brazil and Fenerbahce playmaker Alex scored one of the goals for Coritiba, which remains in relegation zone.

In a late match, fifth-place Atletico Mineiro missed a chance to move within seven points of Cruzeiro after a 1-0 loss to Atletico Paranaense in Curitiba, while Flamengo routed Chapecoense 3-0 with two goals by forward Nixon. Palmeiras moved five points clear from relegation zone thanks to a 1-0 win over second-to-last place Bahia. Striker Mazinho scored after a set up by Chile playmaker Jorge Valdivia, ending the team’s three-match winless streak.

Also Saturday, a fourth-division match in southern Brazil was interrupted for nearly half an hour because of a brawl involving players from clubs Londrina and Brasil de Pelotas. Four players were taken to a police station for interrogation after the altercation. Local media said some were officially accused for their involvement. A cameraman and a staff member for one of the clubs sustained minor injuries in the incident.

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