Nilmar brace sends Internacional top

RIO DE JANEIRO - Brazil striker Nilmar scored twice as Internacional bounced back from their midweek defeat in the Copa Brasil to beat Nautico 2-0 away and go top of the Brazilian championship on Sunday. Inter, beaten by Corinthians in the Copa Brasil final, are two points ahead of Atletico Mineiro, who were held to a 1-1 draw at home by lowly Botafogo. Inter have 20 points from nine matches. Nilmar, a member of Brazil's Confederations Cup winning squad, struck in the 71st minute with a low shot after a corner and placed his second seven minutes under the crossbar following a pass by Andrezinho. Inter's Argentine playmaker Andres D'Alessandro, sent off in the Copa Brasil final, had a penalty saved by keeper Eduardo in the first half. "We know the importance of winning away from home in this Brazilian championship and so build a good cushion... but it will be hard to keep up our success away," Nilmar told reporters. At home in front of a crowd of 50,000 in the Mineirao in Belo Horizonte, Atletico Mineiro went ahead after 15 minutes when Eder Luis headed past Botafogo's Uruguayan keeper Juan Castillo. However, Botafogo captain Juninho silenced the home fans with the equaliser eight minutes later when he blasted in a free kick from outside the box. Palmeiras, under interim coach Jorginho following the sacking of Vanderlei Luxemburgo, beat bottom team Avai 3-0 away to climb to fourth with striker Obina scoring twice. Cruzeiro, resting several key players for their trip to La Plata on Wednesday to play Estudiantes of Argentina in the first leg of the Libertadores Cup final, went down 1-0 at Goias. Adriano played in Flamengo's 2-1 home win over third-placed Vitoria on Saturday despite having missed their last practice before the match saying he had stomach pains. It was the third practice Adriano has missed since he returned to the club in April after leaving Inter Milan over similar problems in Italy.