Corinthians beat Paulista State Championship leaders Guaratingueta to climb into fourth position, while Palmeiras and Santos also made progress in the fight for semi-final places over the weekend. O Verdão won 5-2 at Bragantino to rise to sixth, one point adrift of the top four, with Santos a further five points back in 12th following a 3-2 defeat of Noroeste.
However, round 13 of 19 proved a miserable one for the remaining member of the region's heavyweight quartet. Sao Paulo, depleted by injuries but still able to field Rogerio Ceni, Jorge Wagner and Adriano, lost 2-0 at Portuguesa, whose goals were posted by Rogerio and Bruno Recife.
The FIFA Club World Cup Japan 2005 winners fell out of the playoff places due to Corinthians' superior goal difference. Ponte Preta continue in second despite a goalless draw at Marilia extending their winless run to four matches. Barueri also stumbled, 3-0 at Paulista, but they remain in third, four points off the pace.
Denilson and Dentinho impress
Denilson, formerly the world's most expensive player, made an impressive contribution as Palmeiras recovered from a two-goal deficit - and the dismissal of goalkeeper Marcos - to make it six games unbeaten in the Paulistão. The 30-year-old, the adidas Golden Ball recipient at the FIFA Confederations Cup Saudi Arabia 1997 and a 2002 FIFA World Cup Korea/Japan™ winner, netted his first goals for the club after Diego Souza, Jorge Valdivia and Leandro had hauled Vanderlei Luxemburgo's side in front.
Kleber also starred for Palmeiras, who finished the game at a numerical advantage after Bragantino duo Da Silva and Cesar Gaucho received their marching orders at the Marcelo Stefani stadium.
Dentinho, who missed the previous round's defeat by arch-rivals Palmeiras, netted both goals as Corinthians won 2-0 at the Morumbi. The highly-rated 19-year-old, aided by the craft of Diogo Rincon, helped O Timão inflict a first away loss of the campaign on surprise pacesetters Guaratingueta, who stay three points clear atop of the standings.
Kleber Pereira was Santos' match-winner against Noroeste, his brace leading the defending champions to a success they needed to maintain their playoff hopes.
Carioca giants run out winners
Carioca football's 'big four' all made it maximum points from two outings in the Taca Rio. Fluminense, who beat Arsenal 6-0 in the Copa Libertadores in midweek, cruised to a 5-2 win over Friburguense at the Maracana, with Thiago Neves once again underlining his status as one of the most sought-after players in South America.
Edmundo scored the first from the penalty spot and created the second for Wagner Diniz as Vasco saw off Duque de Caxias 2-0, while Botafogo and Flamengo overcame Volta Redonda and Americano respectively.
Over in Minas Gerais, arch-rivals Atletico Mineiro and Cruzeiro finished goalless at the Mineirao.