SAO PAULO (AP) – Atletico Mineiro failed to get past a scoreless draw with Gremio at home on Sunday, allowing Fluminense to open a four-point lead atop the Brazilian league.
Fluminense has 56 points after holding on to a 2-1 victory over Nautico on Saturday, extending its lead with 12 matches to go. Atletico has a game in hand and can cut the lead back to one again on Wednesday.
Gremio remains third in the 20-team standings, seven points off the lead.
Also Sunday, Uruguay striker Diego Forlan and Brazil forward Leandro Damiao scored a goal each in Internacional's 3-1 win over Bahia in Porto Alegre, and Dutch midfielder Clarence Seedorf scored twice in Botafogo's 2-2 draw with defending champion Corinthians in Rio de Janeiro. Corinthians got one of its goals from Peru striker Paolo Guerrero.
Atletico Mineiro had most chances playing in Belo Horizonte, but Ronaldinho and his teammates were not able to capitalize on their scoring chances to break the deadlock at the Independencia stadium.
Gremio, coached by Vanderlei Luxemburgo and led on the field by World Cup veterans Elano and Ze Roberto, had a clear opportunity midway through the second half when Bolivia striker Marcelo Moreno missed the open net.
Atletico will play at Flamengo on Wednesday in a match which was postponed from the first round because of poor pitch conditions at the Engenhao stadium.
On Saturday, Fluminense got first-half goals from defender Leandro Euzebio and striker Fred - the league's leading scorer with 12 goals - to beat Nautico 2-1 in Volta Redonda.
Former Portugal and Chelsea playmaker Deco recovered from a right leg muscle injury and returned to Fluminense's starting lineup for the first time since early August, participating in both goals.
Nautico loudly complained of the refereeing because of a penalty kick not awarded to the team in the final minutes, which could have led to the team's equalizer. Replays showed striker Kim was pushed hard by Fluminense defender Gum in front of the goal line, but the referee allowed the play to continue.
At the Engenhao, Seedorf opened the scoring for Botafogo in the fifth minute with an angle shot from inside the area, then added his second in the 75th by making a run through two defenders and firing a shot into the far corner. The Dutch midfielder now has six goals in the Brazilian league.
''I'm playing more forward than I did in other moments of my career, that's why I'm being able to score my goals, it's natural,'' the 36-year-old Seedorf said.
Guerrero got his first goal since joining Corinthians in the eighth, and midfielder Douglas converted a penalty kick in the 12th after Argentina striker Juan Martinez was fouled in the area in a call which prompted loud complaints from Botafogo.
Botafogo has 40 points in sixth place, while Corinthians is eighth with 36 points.
Fifth place Sao Paulo got the win against Cruzeiro with a winner by striker Osvaldo in the 63rd in front of more than 40,000 fans at the Morumbi stadium. Before the match, the six-time national champion officially introduced promising Brazil playmaker Paulo Henrique Ganso, who was signed on Friday and came to the field in uniform to salute the team's supporters.
''It's a dream for any player to be able to wear Sao Paulo's jersey,'' said Ganso, who is recovering from injury and is not expected to play for about a month.
Sao Paulo played without injured Brazil striker Luis Fabiano. Cruzeiro hasn't won in five matches and dropped to ninth in the standings.
The victory leaves Sao Paulo just two points from fourth place Vasco da Gama, which failed to get past a 0-0 draw against Ponte Preta in Campinas.
Forlan ended his four-match scoreless streak with a header off a cross by Argentine teammate Andres D'Alessandro in the 37th at the Beira-Rio Stadium, and Damiao netted in the 53rd to lead Internacional to its first win in four matches.
Flamengo snapped a seven-match winless streak with a 2-1 come-from-behind victory over Atletico Goianiense in Goiania, getting goals from former Portugal striker Liedson and former Atletico Madrid playmaker Cleber Santana, who was making his debut with Brazil's most popular club. Vagner Love missed an 85th-minute penalty kick for Flamengo, which moved to 14th with the away victory.
On Saturday, Palmeiras ended a three-game losing streak with a 3-1 win over Figueirense in Florianopolis in the debut of newly signed coach Gilson Kleina, who was hired to replace World Cup-winning coach Luiz Felipe Scolari.
Former Real Betis and AS Roma midfielder Marcos Assuncao set up two goals in the first 10 minutes at the Orlando Scarpelli stadium, including one by former Barcelona defender Henrique. Assuncao then sealed the victory - Palmeiras' sixth in 26 matches - with a goal in the 68th after a play started by Argentina striker Hernan Barcos.
Palmeiras improved to 18th in the standings, still in relegation zone but closer to safety. Palmeiras had lost six of its last eight matches.
Also Saturday, Santos lost 3-1 to Portuguesa at the Pacaembu stadium in a match in which star striker Neymar didn't play because he was being rested after playing with the national team during the week.