RIO DE JANEIRO, Sept 17 (Reuters) - Sao Paulo extended their lead in the Brazilian championship by beating Internacional 2-0 in a repeat of the Libertadores Cup final on Sunday
Internacional, who began the day three points behind Sao Paulo in second place, slipped to third behind arch-rivals Gremio, who thrashed nine-man Botafogo 4-0 with a hat-trick from Romulo.
Flamengo striker Obina also notched three goals as his side won 4-3 at Fortaleza to move away from the relegation zone.
Internacional beat Sao Paulo over two legs to win the Libertadores last month but have sold four key players to European clubs since.
Sao Paulo went ahead after only eight minutes when Lenilson, left unmarked in the penalty area, headed in Thiago's cross.
Former Brazil midfielder Junior added the second in the 70th minute, placing a left-foot shot beyond Clemer after Ilsinho had pulled the ball back from the byline.
Minutes earlier, Sao Paulo had defender Alex Silva sent off for a second bookable offence.
Sao Paulo moved on to 46 points from 23 games, four ahead of Gremio and six clear of Internacional.
Vanderlei Luxemburgo's Santos are a further point behind in fourth place after losing 1-0 to Ponte Preta, who won with a late penalty earned and converted by striker Tuto after Santos had lost possession.
Romulo got Gremio off to a flying start in Porto Alegre when he pounced on a rebound in the seventh minute.
Botafogo squandered several chances to equalise before capitulating in the final 20 minutes after Junior Cesar and Ale were both sent off for bad tackles.
Romulo scored the second and fourth goals with Argentine German Herrera finding the net in between.
Flamengo, one of six teams on 30 points, raced to a 3-0 lead at struggling Fortaleza with two goals by Obina and one from Fabiano Olveira.
Andre Cunha and Rinaldo reduced the arrears to 3-2 before Obina completed his hat-trick on the break.
Although Rinaldo pulled another back for the home team in the 75th minute, they could not complete the comeback.
Fluminense, ninth with 33 points, ended a nine-match winless run by beating Figueirense 2-0.
Serbian midfielder Dejan Petkovic slipped between two defenders to open the scoring with a superb goal and Tuta added the second six minutes later.