Palmeiras go top on Ramalho debut

RIO DE JANEIRO - Palmeiras gave new coach Muricy Ramalho a perfect start by beating Fluminense 1-0 to go top of the Brazilian championship on Wednesday. Midfielder Diego Souza scored the only goal of the match on the hour when he latched on to Cleiton Xavier's long pass forward and beat goalkeeper Fernando Henrique with a low shot. Ramalho, fired by Sao Paulo last month despite winning the Brazilian championship with them for the last three seasons, replaced former Real Madrid and Brazil coach Vanderlei Luxemburgo at neighbours Palmeiras. The 53-year-old did not have far to move as the respective training grounds of his former and new club are next to each other in the Sao Paulo district of Barra Funda, separated only by a wall. Palmeiras went top of the table on 31 points from 15 games, three ahead of Atletico Mineiro, who are playing on Thursday. "The fans want a coach who makes the team win, it doesn't matter if we do it playing ugly," goalkeeper Marcos told reporters. "The important thing is not to score lots of goals or play pretty football, but to be champions at the end." Fluminense, who earlier this month fired former Brazil coach Carlos Alberto Parreira, remained mired in the relegation zone after their tenth game without a win. Thirty-eight-year-old midfielder Marcelinho Carioca scored with one of his trademark free kicks to gave Santo Andre a 1-1 draw with his former team Corinthians. Chicao equalised with a 75th minute penalty for Corinthians, who were missing striker Ronaldo after he broke his hand in Sunday's 3-0 defeat to Palmeiras. Former Inter Milan, Crystal Palace, Charlton Athletic and Standard Liege defender Gonzalo Sorondo scored a late winner to give Internacional a 3-2 win over Barueri and move them up to third.