SAO PAULO (AP) – Brazil playmaker Lucas and striker Marlos scored as Sao Paulo defeated Ceara 2-0 on Sunday to become the first team since 2003 to start the Brazilian league with five straight victories.
The six-time national champion has a four-point lead over Palmeiras, which routed last-place Avai 5-0 with striker Kleber and midfielder Luan scoring twice. Flamengo drew 0-0 with Botafogo with its forward Ronaldinho being jeered by fans again, while defending champion Fluminense fell 1-0 to Bahia at home on Saturday, losing its second match in a row.
Marlos opened the scoring for Sao Paulo with a low cross-shot from inside the area in the 35th minute in the northeastern city of Fortaleza, and Lucas sealed the win by dribbling past a defender and the goalkeeper before finding the open net in the 67th.
Ceara missed a first-half penalty kick when the match was 0-0 at Presidente Vargas stadium. Sao Paulo goalkeeper Rogerio Ceni dived to his right and just tipped the ball wide.
No team has started 5-0 since the Brazilian league changed its format in 2003, with teams playing each other twice, home-and-away. The league was previously played under a playoff system. Two teams had won four matches in a row until now, Fluminense in 2005 and Internacional in 2009.
Palmeiras stayed close to Sao Paulo in the 20-team standings with its rout of Avai at the Caninde stadium in Sao Paulo. Former Schalke and Galatasaray playmaker Lincoln added the other goal for the team coached by Luiz Felipe Scolari. The eight-time champion remains unbeaten in this year's competition with three wins and two draws.
Corinthians remained third in the standings with 10 points even though it didn't play on Sunday because its match against Santos was postponed so the rival can prepare for the second leg of the Copa Libertadores final against Penarol on Wednesday. Santos held Penarol to a 0-0 draw last week in Uruguay.
Flamengo held Rio de Janeiro rival Botafogo to a scoreless draw despite having Argentine midfielder Dario Bottinelli sent off in the 23rd minute at Engenhao stadium in Rio. Bottinelli was sent off after receiving his second yellow card for diving inside the penalty area.
Ronaldinho, who earlier this year became the most talked-about acquisition by a Brazilian club, didn't play well and was substituted late in the match, being heavily jeered by fans. He had already been booed before following poor performances with Brazil's most popular club.
In other results Sunday, Gremio drew Brazilian Cup champion Vasco da Gama 1-1 at Olimpico stadium in Porto Alegre, while Figueirense beat Atletico Paranaense 2-0 at Orlando Scarpelli stadium in Florianopolis.
On Saturday, Fluminense lost its second in a row after conceding a second-half injury-time goal to recently promoted Bahia at the Engenhao. The defending champion had lost 2-0 to Corinthians last week in Sao Paulo.
Also Saturday, Cruzeiro remained near the bottom of the standings after a 1-1 draw with America in Sete Lagoas, a result that kept the 2003 national champion winless after five rounds and prompted coach Stival Cuca to resign.