RIO DE JANEIRO, May 8 (Reuters) - Brazilian champions Corinthians, knocked out of the Libertadores Cup on Thursday, lost 3-1 to arch-rivals Sao Paulo in a league match on Sunday, their fourth successive defeat.
Although both teams are based in Sao Paulo, the game was played around 400 kilometres away in the town of Sao Jose do Rio Preto as Corinthians fled the fury of their own fans.
Furious supporters attempted to invade the pitch at the Pacaembu stadium on Thursday, forcing the game to be abandoned, after Corinthians fell 3-1 behind Argentina's River Plate, 6-2 down on aggregate.
Sunday's game went off peacefully but another defeat left Corinthians directors undecided over whether the team should return to Sao Paulo.
Corinthians had set their hearts on winning the Libertadores for the first time and the expectations of their fans had been raised by a multi-million deal with London-based Media Sports Investments, which has made them Brazil's richest club.
Corinthians made an excellent start when midfielder Carlos Alberto won the ball in the air and found Nilmar, who fired home with his left foot in the 21st minute.
Sao Paulo levelled six minutes before the break when Souza's intended cross caught goalkeeper Silvio Luiz off his guard and flew into the net.
Corinthians dominated the second half, Argentine forward Carlos Tevez striking the bar, only for Sao Paulo to hit them with two goals in as many minutes from striker Alex Dias and Lenilson.
The defeat left Corinthians 17th in the 20-team table with three points from four games. Sao Paulo are fourth with nine.
Santos, Fluminense, Internacional all won to share the lead with 10 points each.
Santos, playing behind closed doors in nearby Santo Andre after trouble by their fans at a home match last year, beat Fortaleza 2-0 with two goals in six minutes before halftime.
Fortaleza defender Glauber turned a cross into his own net and Rodrigo Tiui headed the second for Vanderlei Luxemburgo's team, who lead on goal difference.
A late penalty form Jorge Wagner gave Internacional a 2-1 win at Atletico Paranaense after Iarley was upended by Paulo Andre, who was sent off.
Internacional also had Perdigao dismissed for a violent tackle one minute later.
Colombian striker Wason Renteria had put Internacional ahead in the first half before Danilo levelled form a corner.
Meanwhile, goals from Lenny and Rissut gave Fluminense a 2-1 win over Parana.
Bottom-of-the-table Palmeiras crashed to their fourth straight defeat, 2-0 to Sao Caetano, who struck twice in a four-minute spell during the first half.
Maraba fired home from a rebound after Sergio failed to hold Elton's shot and Elton himself latched on to a long ball forward and rounded the keeper to add the second.