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Is a title challenge possible for Man Utd?

Manchester United
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Adriano off to flying start for Sao Paulo

RIO DE JANEIRO, Jan 17 (Reuters) - Inter Milan's outcast striker Adriano made a dream start to his six-month loan spell in Brazil on Thursday by scoring both goals in Sao Paulo's 2-1 state championship win at Guaratingueta.

The former Brazil international was loaned to Sao Paulo after a loss of form associated with personal problems and a reported struggle with alcoholism.

Adriano's return to home soil has generated a buzz of excitement in Brazil and Sao Paulo fans outnumbered local supporters in the packed Guaratingueta stadium.

The home club took a first half lead when a free kick by central defender Renato was deflected past Sao Paulo keeper Rogerio Ceni.

Adriano initially looked sluggish and was easily contained by Renato.

Guaratingueta threatened to extend their lead as Sao Paulo struggled to cope with the lively midfield pairing of Alex Silva and Ale.

Adriano took up deeper positions to escape his markers and the ploy proved successful when he crashed a loose ball into the Guaratingueta net shortly after the half time break.

Adriano's winning goal came from a well-placed free kick that escaped the lunge of goalkeeper Fabio.

'Obviously there is still plenty of room for me to improve but it was great to get off to a good start,' Adriano told reporters.

'It is a long time since I had a smile on my face but I am starting to enjoy myself again.'

Palmeiras also got off to a good start in the Sao Paulo state championship by dominating Sertaozinho in a 3-1 win.

Former Real Madrid coach Wanderly Luxemburgo was beginning his fourth stint at Palmeiras, and the swift attacking play bore his hallmark.

All three Palmeiras goals came from free-flowing moves, two of which were concluded by imperious headers by striker Alex Mineiro.

Luxemburgo won the 2007 version of the Sao Paulo state championship with Santos but his former club got off to a poor start on Wednesday by losing 2-0 at Portuguesa.

The Sao Paulo championship is the biggest of Brazil's regional contests and serves as a prestigious warm-up to the Brazilian national title race, which starts in late April.