Defender Alex Silva and striker Leandro scored second half goals as Brazilian league leaders Sao Paulo beat their closest rivals Botafogo 2-0 on Wednesday to extend their winning streak to six games.
Defending champions Sao Paulo have 37 points from 18 matches, five more than second-placed Botafogo, who have a game in hand. The league will reach its halfway point after next weekend's matches.
"The championship is still wide open," Sao Paulo goalkeeper Rogerio Ceni said. "We still have several very competitive teams in contention."
Alex Silva put Sao Paulo ahead in the 63rd minute with a header from the six-yard line after a corner.
Six minutes later, Botafogo were reduced to 10 men when midfielder Tulio was red carded for kicking Leandro in the face as the striker went to the ground after competing for the ball.
Leandro then sealed the win in the 74th minute when his low right-foot shot from outside the area capped a counter attack in front of more than 47,000 fans at the Maracana.
Sao Paulo's Ecuadorean defender Neicer Reasco broke his left tibia in a clash with Botafogo's Luciano Almeida in the first half.
Reasco, who was sidelined for several months last year because of a fracture in the same bone, is expected to miss the rest of the season, Sao Paulo doctors told local media.
Botafogo, winless in two matches, could have regained first place with a win. The Rio de Janeiro club had led the competition since the sixth round before being surpassed by Sao Paulo following a scoreless draw against Parana last weekend.
Cruzeiro moved to third place after beating Sport 2-0 with two goals by former Sporting Lisbon striker Alecsandro at the Mineirao in Belo Horizonte. It was Cruzeiro's third win in a row.
Goias, fourth in the standings, defeated Atletico Mineiro 3-2 at the Serra Dourada stadium in Goiania with two goals by veteran midfielder Paulo Baier.
In Recife, Nautico routed Figueirense 4-2 with a pair of goals by Uruguayan midfielder Alberto Martin Acosta.
Flamengo, Brazil's most popular club, lost 2-0 to Atletico Paranaense in Curitiba. The five-time national champions have won only one of their last 12 matches and are second-to-last in the standings with 12 points from 14 matches.
Also on Wednesday, Fluminense -- winless in five matches -- drew 0-0 with Juventude in Caxias do Sul.