Sao Paulo record eighth consecutive win

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> Sao Paulo maintained their unbeaten run in the Sao Paulo state championship with a hard fought 2-1 win at Rio Branco.

Updated: February 25, 2007 10:05 IST
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Sao Paulo maintained their unbeaten run in the Sao Paulo state championship with a hard fought 2-1 win at Rio Branco. First half goals from Grafite and Marquinhos ensured that coach Cuca's side stay six points clear of their nearest rivals Ponte Preta. The Sao Paulo faithful made the short trip to Americana on Sunday, expecting to see their side maintain their strong start against a Rio Branco side struggling at the wrong end of the table. True to form, the visitors dominated the opening stages and went ahead in the 18th minute. Luis Fabiano fed the ball through to Grafite, who held of a desperate last challenge from his marker and rounded the 'keeper. It was all that Sao Paulo deserved for their early enterprise, but the goal only served to breathe new life into Rio Branco. Julio Espinosa's side drew level on the half hour mark when Thiago Ribeiro skipped past Gustavo Nery and crossed for his strike partner Rivaldo to thump a header home. The game was now in the balance, with play switching swiftly from end to end. Five minutes before the break, Rio Branco's Wilton Goiano had a penalty shout dismissed by referee Philippe Lombard before Sao Paolo swept downfield. The lively Grafite powered his way to the by-line before cutting the ball back to Marquinhos, whose side-footed shot found a way past Adilson. The replays showed that -- although it was a well-worked move -- the Rio Branco stopper should have kept Marquinhos's effort out. Sao Paulo had to work hard to keep hold of their lead in the second half -- Rio Branco putting in a number of rugged challenges that left visiting coach Cuca unhappy with the referee. Fabio Simplicio should have added to their advantage -- but with a clear sight of goal only shot tamely into the hands of Adilson. Indeed the visitors could have snatched a point in the dying moments, but after slipping past the Sao Paolo defence, Wilton Goiano stabbed his shot wide of the target. His miss meant that, after opening their campaign with a goalless draw against Ponte Preta, Sao Paulo have now won six straight games in the Paulista Championship. (AP)

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