Obina hat-trick helps Palmeiras bounce back

RIO DE JANEIRO - Striker Obina hit a hat-trick as leaders Palmeiras ended a run of four matches without victory to thrash Goias 4-0 in the Brazilian championship on Thursday.

Palmeiras opened a two-point lead over title holders Sao Paulo, who beat fourth-placed Internacional 1-0 on Wednesday, after Atletico Mineiro were upset 2-1 by bottom team Fluminense.

With six matches to go, Palmeiras have 57 points, Sao Paulo 55, Mineiro 53 and Inter 52.

Palmeiras had gone three games without scoring but Obina, a reserve at Flamengo who has shone since joining the leaders in mid-season, put them ahead five minutes after halftime.

He then converted a penalty in the 75th minute and completed his hat-trick three minutes from time. The striker also laid on his team's third goal for substitute Deivid Saccony.

"It was a marvellous night. I hadn't been playing well in our last matches but I was confident of my potential," Obina said.

"Tonight I can put my head on my pillow and sleep peacefully," added Obina, who was given a standing ovation when he was substituted near the end.

Goias had defender Rafael Tolou sent off for a second bookable offence with the score 2-0.

Sixth-placed Flamengo had their 10-match unbeaten run ended on Wednesday in a 2-0 defeat by Barueri, whose players said after the match they had been promised rewards from fifth-placed Cruzeiro for a victory.

Forward Val Baiano, who scored the opening goal, and keeper Rene were ordered to appear before a sports tribunal on Thursday to explain their revelations.

Both teams are level with 51 points in the race to get into the top four and secure a place in next year's South American Libertadores Cup.

"Barueri didn't do anything wrong, we didn't allow Flamengo to win the match, we tried to win ... There can't be a punishment for a team that do their duty and show professionalism," Baiano told reporters.