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By ESPN Staff

Fluminense end 12-match winless run in Brazil

RIO DE JANEIRO, Nov 12 (Reuters) - Struggling Fluminense won for the first time in 12 games and ended a 18-match winless run spanning three clubs for their coach Paulo Cesar Gusmao as they beat Cruzeiro 1-0 in the Brazilian championship on Sunday.

Ponte Preta converted a three-times taken penalty in their 3-0 win over Flamengo while Corinthians held on for a goalless draw away to Figueirense despite having two players sent off in the first half.

Sao Paulo stayed seven points clear of Internacional at the top with two games each to play after both sides won while Fortaleza and Santa Cruz became the first two clubs to be relegated.

Fluminense's win, their first since Sept. 17, kept them just outside the relegation zone.

Evando's goal four minutes before halftime left 'Flu' 16th in the 20-team table with 40 points from 35 games, two ahead of Ponte Preta. The bottom four go down.

It was Fluminense's first win in nine outings under Gusmao, their sixth coach this year, whose personal drought stretched back to July 12 when he was coach of Cruzeiro.

Since then, Gusmao had gone a further five matches without a win at Cruzeiro before being sacked. He then took over at Sao Caetano but was fired by them as well after a run of five straight defeats.

Ponte Preta were helped by two first-half penalties as they won for the first time in six matches.

Defender Preto converted the first in the 10th minute and Jailton needed three attempts to score the second in first-half stoppage-time.

Flamengo goalkeeper Bruno saved the first two but was judged to have moved on both occasions. He protested and was booked for dissent.

Emerson completed Ponte's win in the 75th minute.

Defending champions Corinthians, who had won their last five games to pull clear of the relegation zone, were happy to settle for a point at Figueirense.

Defender Marinho was sent off for two bookable offences in the first 12 minutes and Marcus Vinicius followed in the 39th.

Goalkeeper Marcelo made at least five outstanding saves to keep Figueirense at bay.

Leaders Sao Paulo needed only 16 minutes to polish off Goias as they continued their march towards the title.

Midfielder Mineiro scored with a fulminating long-range drive in the 11th minute and defender Fabao headed in Souza's corner five minutes later.

Sao Paulo, who will take the title if they win next week, have 73 points from 35 games.

South American champions Internacional kept the championship alive by beating 19th-placed Fortaleza 3-0 with goals from Fernandao, Indio and Alex, a result which condemned their opponents to the second division.

Bottom club Santa Cruz also went down after losing 3-0 at home to Sao Caetano, who are 18th and kept alive their faint hopes of survival.