Sao Paulo secure fourth Brazilian title
RIO DE JANEIRO, Nov 19 (Reuters) - Sao Paulo won the Brazilian championship with two games to spare on Sunday despite being held to a nervous 1-1 draw at home by Atletico Paranaense.
Sao Paulo, who have 74 points from 36 games, moved eight points clear of second-placed Internacional, whose chances ended when they lost 1-0 at Parana in a match which was interrupted for 13 minutes in the first half because of torrential rain.
It was Sao Paulo's fourth Brazilian title, putting them level with the competition's most successful teams - Palmeiras, Corinthians and Flamengo.
The Tricolor, whose coach Muricy Ramalho led Internacional to second place last year, completed a remarkable treble as they won the South American Libertadores and World Club championship last year.
Central defender Fabao headed Sao Paulo ahead in the 24th minute when he outjumped the Paranaense defence to meet Souza's inswinging free kick from the left.
Sao Paulo relaxed after halftime and paid the price when Cristian, left unmarked outside the penalty area, scored with a low 25-metre shot with 11 minutes left.
Shortly afterwards, Erandir broke clear for Paranaense but Sao Paulo goalkeeper and captain Rogerio Ceni denied him with a flying save.
The draw meant that the players and the 68,000 crowd at the Morumbi stadium had to wait another 15 minutes for the end of the Internacional game before they could celebrate the title.
Inter's chances suffered an early setback when defender Ceara was sent off in the 10th minute for pushing over Eltinho as he had a clear run on goal.
The visitors, however, had the better of the first half but failed to convert their chances.
Four minutes into the second half, Parana striker Cristiano was tripped in the area and Sandro converted the penalty to bury Internacional's chances.