Corinthians win as Brazil championship begins

RIO DE JANEIRO, May 9 (Reuters) - Corinthians put their Libertadores Cup elimination behind them with a 2-1 home win over nine-man Atletico Paranaense in their opening match of the Brazilian championship on Sunday.

Striker Kleber scored twice as Cruzeiro beat Internacional 2-1 away in a meeting of two sides that reached the last eight in South America's top club competition in midweek while another two, Flamengo and Sao Paulo, drew 1-1.

At the Pacaembu in Sao Paulo, Paranaense had Paulo Baier sent off in the 42nd minute but they still went ahead when Marcio Azevedo's free kick on the stroke of halftime went through a group of players in the box without anyone getting a touch.

Souza equalised on the hour for a Corinthians side whose dream of a first Libertadores Cup crown in the club's centenary year had been dashed by Flamengo.

Paranaense had goalkeeper Neto shown the red card 20 minutes from time for a foul outside his box and former Brazil striker Ronaldo scored the winner with a penalty in the 82nd.

At the Maracana in Rio de Janeiro, striker Washington gave Sao Paulo a half time lead but Denis Marques equalised for Flamengo early in the second half in a match in which both sides rested first choice players for their Libertadores Cup matches this week.

At the Beira-Rio in Porto Alegre, where Inter will meet Libertadores Cup holders Estudiantes of Argentina in the first leg of their quarter-final on Thursday, both sides also fielded a number of reserves.

There were two goals in the opening six minutes. Kleber put Cruzeiro ahead with a penalty after a harsh handball decision but Inter replied quickly when Taison headed home after Giuliano's fine run and cross.

Kleber scored the winner in the 36th minute from a pass by Fabricio. Inter had a second half equaliser disallowed for obstruction.

Cruzeiro are at home to Sao Paulo in the first leg of the Libertadores quarter-finals on Wednesday while Flamengo host Universidad de Chile at the Maracana.