Substitute Luciano bagged a hat-trick in an 11-minute period as Corinthians rallied to beat Goias 5-2 in the Brazilian Serie A on Thursday.
Luciano – a second-half replacement for Angel Romero – came off the bench and scored three goals in the final 12 minutes to help Corinthians complete a sensational fightback at the Arena Corinthians.
Corinthians, who extended their unbeaten streak in the league to 11 games, are now level on 31 points with second-placed International.
Internacional were beaten 1-0 at home by high-flying Sao Paulo on Wednesday.
Defending champions Cruzeiro pounced on Internacional’s slip up, edging Gremio 1-0 on Thursday to move five points cleat at the summit.
Corinthians went into their mid-week fixture on the back of a disappointing stalemate at home to lowly Bahia last week and they soon found themselves trailing on Thursday.
Thiago Mendes sprung the offside trap and fired the fired the ball beyond goalkeeper Cassio for an 11th-minute lead, though Corinthians hit back 11 minutes later through Paolo Guerrero’s headed effort from a corner.
Goias were back in front on the hour mark, when Jackson drove into the penalty area and glanced a header past Cassio.
That lead lasted all but five minutes as Elias equalised, setting the stage for Luciano to take control.
Luciano stepped up and headed the home side in front for the first time with 12 minutes remaining.
The 21-year-old Brazilian striker was at again in the 85th minute, before he put the result beyond doubt four minutes later as Corinthians condemned Goias to a fourth consecutive loss.
Fourth-placed Sao Paulo have won three matches on the bounce and sit seven points off the pace following their 1-0 success over Internacional, with Ganso’s 36th-minute strike seeing the hosts’ walk away empty-handed for the first time in five games.
At the Estadio Governador Magalhaes Pinto, second-half substitute Dagoberto scored four minutes from time to help Cruzeiro to a late 1-0 win over Luiz Felipe Scolari’s Gremio.
In Wednesday’s results, Flamengo continued their resurgence after downing Atletico Mineiro 2-1.
After Leo Moura restored parity from the spot in the 65th minute, Croatia international Eduardo scored the winning goal six minutes later as Flamengo notched a third straight victory.
Leandro Damiao and Thiago Ribeiro were on target for Santos, who snapped a three-game losing streak with a 2-0 win at home to Atletico PR.
Cellar-dwellers Palmeiras crashed to a 2-1 defeat to sixth-placed Sport Recife and Figueirense accounted for Botafogo 1-0 thanks to Cleitinho’s second-minute strike.
Fluminense suffered back-to-back defeats after losing 1-0 at Chapecoense, while Coritiba upstaged Vitoria 2-0.
Meanwhile, Bahia and Criciuma played out a scoreless draw.