BELO HORIZONTE, Sept. 19 (Xinhua) -- Former Real Madrid forward Julio Baptista struck a late brace Wednesday as Cruzeiro reaffirmed their title credentials with a 3-0 victory over fellow Campeonato Brasileiro contenders Botafogo.
Nilton opened the scoring on the stroke of halftime before Baptista netted twice in the final 10 minutes, condemning Botafogo to just their fourth defeat of the season.
Former AC Milan star Clarence Seedorf squandered the chance to equalize early in the second half when he miscued a penalty attempt after Rafael Marques was brought down by Bruno Rodrigo.
The result at the Independencia stadium stretches Cruzeiro's lead at the top of the standings to seven points. Botafogo remain second, four points ahead of third-placed Gremio.
Meanwhile reigning champions Fluminense continued their mid-season recovery with a 2-1 victory over Criciuma, Sao Paulo overcame Atletico Mineiro 1-0 while Ponte Preta beat Corinthians 2-0.