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By ESPN Staff

Rogerio saves penalty as Sao Paulo win opener

RIO DE JANEIRO, Jan 18 (Reuters) - Sao Paulo captain and goalkeeper Rogerio Ceni saved a penalty as the Brazilian champions began the new season with a 3-1 win at Sertaozinho on Thursday.

Sao Paulo had to overcome a tighter pitch, driving rain and muddy conditions as they kicked off their Paulista championship campaign, one of the regional tournaments which form the prelude to the marathon Brazilian season.

Rogerio, whose total of 68 goals is recognised as the highest in football history by a goalkeeper, had a quiet first half as Sao Paulo went 2-0 ahead with two goals from striker Aloisio.

But he was called into action early in the second half, saving Ricardo Lopes's penalty after a foul by Hugo.

Hugo, signed from Gremio during the close season, atoned by scoring the third in the 65th minute before Fabiano notched a late consolation for the hosts.

After Santos and Corinthians both won on Wednesday, Palmeiras completed a winning start for the four favourites when they beat Paulista 4-2 in Thursday's other game, their first under new coach Caio Junior.

A dramatic opening 18 minutes saw Gilson give Paulista a shock lead, before Dininho and Paulo Baier turned the score around with two goals in three minutes. Gilson was then sent off for a tackle from behind.

Midfielder William added two more for Palmeiras either side of halftime and Rodolfo pulled one back for Paulista with seven minutes left.