Sao Paulo held as Brazilian season starts

RIO DE JANEIRO - Brazilian champions Sao Paulo were held to a 1-1 draw at home by modest Ituano in the Paulista championship as the 2009 season kicked off on Wednesday.

Striker Hugo gave Sao Paulo a 12th minute lead when he scored with a clinically-taken effort after the ball was laid off by Borges.

However, the visitors levelled when defender Miranda put through his own goal in the 36th minute as he tried to control the ball with his chest.

Sao Paulo, Brazilian champions for the last three years, were jeered off the field by the 11,000 crowd at the Morumbi.

Vanderlei Luxemburgo's Palmeiras made a more impressive start when they beat Santo Andre 1-0, debutant Cleiton Xavier scoring a neat goal in the 43rd minute after striker Lenny prised open the defence.

The Paulista is the largest of the regional tournaments that serve as a prelude to the Brazilian championship.