Roberto Carlos scores direct from corner

RIO DE JANEIRO - The Brazilian season got off to a flying start with a brilliant goal direct from a corner by former Brazil and Real Madrid full-back Roberto Carlos on Sunday.

Roberto Carlos scored with what is known in South America as an Olympic goal to help Corinthians beat Portuguesa 2-0 on the opening weekend of the Paulista (Sao Paulo state) championship.

The 37-year-old took advantage of a distraction by rival goalkeeper Weverton, who was organising his defence, to curl the ball in off the far post from the corner flag in the 20th minute.

"That was the first Olympic goal of my career. It took a long time coming, right," a grinning Roberto Carlos told reporters as he was kissed on his bald head by former Brazil team mate Ronaldo.

Midfielder Paulinho had opened the scoring in the 12th minute.

Striker Ronaldo, who struggled with injuries last year and played less than half Corinthians' matches, is now captain and played until the final minutes in an encouraging performance for the new season.

The Brazilian season starts with state championships, the main ones including first divisions sides in Sao Paulo, the Carioca in Rio de Janeiro, the Gaucho in the southern Rio Grande do Sul and Mineiro in Minas Gerais. The national championship kicks off in May.

Paulista title contenders Sao Paulo won 2-0 away to Mogi Mirim - who have former FIFA world player of the year Rivaldo as captain and club president.

Goalkeeper Rogerio Ceni put Sao Paulo ahead after five minutes with a penalty to increase his world record to 94 goals by a keeper.

Title holders Santos beat promoted Linense 4-1 on Saturday with nine reserves, a common tendency when the big teams face their lesser state rivals.

South American champions Internacional's reserves lost 1-0 to modest Cruzeiro de Porto Alegre in the Gaucho championship as they prepare their first team to defend the Libertadores Cup starting next month.

In the Carioca, which starts next weekend, all eyes will be on Flamengo's Ronaldinho after his recent move from AC Milan although the club said he would not be match fit for another 10 days.