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Soccer-Cruzeiro celebrate though title not wrapped up yet


(Adds later matches)

By Andrew Downie

SAO PAULO, Nov 10 (Reuters) - Cruzeiro's players celebrated after a 3-0 win over third-placed Gremio on Sunday although they still need two points to guarantee their first Brazilian league title since 2003.

Players lifted cardboard cups and almost 60,000 fans at the packed Mineirao stadium cheered them on a lap of honour.

With five matches remaining, the Belo Horizonte club are 13 points ahead of second-placed Atletico Paranaense, who beat Sao Paulo 3-0 and must win all their games to stop Cruzeiro.

"It's very difficult for us not to get any more points," said Cruzeiro striker Borges, whose first-half overhead kick set them on their way to victory.

Willian and Ricardo Goulart scored in the second half to wrap up the points and the fans rejoiced at the final whistle.

Cruzeiro are not playing at home for at least three weeks and the supporters, believing their team are certain to clinch the title, took the chance to celebrate.

A championship success would cap a remarkable year for Belo Horizonte, one of Brazil's most passionate footballing cities, after Cruzeiro's fierce rivals Atletico Mineiro won the Copa Libertadores in July.

It would also mark the first time a club outside Rio de Janeiro or Sao Paulo has won the Serie A crown since 2003.

Cruzeiro's next game is against sixth-placed Vitoria on Wednesday.


The big questions now surround which teams will grab one of the three remaining Copa Libertadores spots and which three will join Nautico in next year's Serie B.

Gremio remain in third place four points behind Atletico Paranaense, who have 58, while Botafogo and Goias are tied for fourth a point further back with 53. Unfancied Vitoria are another two points behind on 51.

At the other end of the table, last year's champions Fluminense dropped into the relegation zone after losing 1-0 at Corinthians after a last-minute penalty from Alexandre Pato.

The Rio club are third-bottom with 36 points, the same as Criciuma, who beat already doomed basement side Nautico. Ponte Preta are second-bottom with 34 points.

Vasco da Gama are one point above the drop zone after a 2-2 draw at home to Santos.

If Fluminense went down they would be the first reigning Brazilian champions to be relegated. (Editing by Alison Wildey and Ken Ferris)

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