Brasileiro Round 32: Ronaldinho stars as Atletico Mineiro close gap at summit

The two-time Fifa World Player of the Year put in a mesmerising performance, grabbing two assists, as Galo overcame title-favourites Fluminense in Belo Horizonte

Brasileiro: Round 32 Results


Atletico Mineiro 3-2 Fluminense

Atletico Mineiro gained ground on Fluminense in the title run-in as they came from behind to secure a 3-2 win at the Independencia.

Ronaldinho's transfer from Flamengo to Galo at the start of the season raised numerous eyebrows, but the former Barcelona man continued to defy his critics with another stellar display. He thought he had put the hosts ahead when his 20-yard free kick found the net midway through the first half, only to see the referee rule it out for a push in the wall. Fluzao were extremely patient in possession but the Alvinegro were by far the more dangerous as Diego Cavalieri was forced into a string of saves before Jo rattled the bar. It was a magnificent first half of football, but it remained goalless at the break.

That all changed after the restart as Abel Braga's pragmatic side took the lead, somewhat against the run of play. Fred slipped a neat pass into Wellington Nem, and the young forward slotted past Victor and into the bottom corner. Cavalieri kept the visitors ahead, as he tipped Leandro Donizete's long-range strike onto the post, but Atletico pulled level when Jo added an emphatic finish to Ronaldinho's pass with 69 minutes played. Jo then thought he had nodded in the winner from Bernard's cross in the 82nd minute but, moments later, Fred restored parity with a trademark poacher's finish to Carlinhos' cross. Yet there was more drama to come; in the third minute of second-half stoppage Leonardo Silva headed home from Ronaldinho's cross to ensure a huge win for Cuca's team.

Atletico Mineiro occupy second position but have closed the gap on Brasileiro leaders Fluminense to just six points.

Vasco da Gama 1-2 Internacional

Vasco da Gama's abysmal form continued as they suffered a 2-1 reverse at the hands of Internacional at the Sao Januario.

Although the hosts came into the match on the back of three succesive defeats, they started in a fantastic manner as Felipe Bastos shot narrowly wide from Wendel's cutback in the first minute. Yet Inter were unpertubed and came close themselves moments later as Nei's ambitious strike cannoned back off of Fernando Prass' bar. Vasco held their nerve, though, and went ahead after 22 minutes as Jonas' exquisite touch took him between two defenders and slid the ball home.

Dede almost gifted the Colorado a goal on the half-hour mark but they soon levelled as Andres D'Alessandro picked out Diego Forlan with a brilliant through ball. The Uruguayan then poked a shot underneath Prass and in at the post. Some more fantastic passing brought about the second goal for Fernandao's men just before the break, and once again it was Forlan, who got the better of the goakeeper with a smart finish.

The second half failed to live up to the excitement of the first and Marcelo Oliveira's team could do nothing to avoid succumbing to their fourth consecutive defeat. It sees them drift ever further from Copa Libertadores qualification, while Internacional, in sixth position, keep their narrow hopes of continental competition alive.

Palmeiras 2-0 Cruzeiro

Palmeiras moved a step closer to safety as they defeated a lacklustre Cruzeiro outfit 2-0 at the Arena de Fonte.

The Raposa began the game positively but a couple of wayward long-range strikes from Souza were the closest they came to testing Bruno in the opposing goal. It almost cost them dearly as Fabio spilled a Marcos Assuncao free kick straight to Luan, but the striker was unable to react quick enough to divert the ball back into the net. Cruzeiro began to play on the break, and after Anselmo Ramon saw his first effort held by the man between the sticks he was denied by the post on his second as he stretched to get on the end of Everton's low cross.

In the second half the Verdao certainly looked the more likely to score, and that they did in the 67th minute. Assuncao's typically brilliant free-kick delivery was headed into the back of the net by Hernan Barcos. The Argentine striker then grabbed his second 10 minutes later as he received the ball on the edge of the box after some powerful hold up play from Obina. Barcos beat the defender with one touch before dinking a cute touch over Fabio to put the game beyond doubt.

Although Palmeiras remain in the relegation zone, the margin to safety from 18th position is down to four points. Cruzeiro, meanwhile, look destined for a mediocre mid-table finish in ninth place.

Flamengo 1-0 Sao Paulo

Flamengo put distance between themselves and those at the foot of the table with a 1-0 win over the in-form Sao Paulo at the Engenhao.

Going into the match the Rubro-Negro had failed to pick up a win in their previous five games, but they showed renewed resilience against Ney Franco's men, who contrastingly had picked up maximum points from the previous 15 available. Going on the early exchanges it was clear that the Tricolor Paulista were determined to make it six wins from six and a brilliant save from Luis Fabiano by Felipe kept it scoreless early in the first half. Although Flamengo did improve, Sao Paulo were awarded a penalty in the 3oth minute but Luis Fabiano was unable to convert once again.

Vagner Love was having a terrific game, working extremely hard for his side and firing numerous shots on goal. His endeavour and skill won Fla a free kick in a dangerous position with 20 minutes left to play and Adryan stepped up to take it. He flighted a left-footed cross into the box and Marcos Gonzalez rose highest to glance the ball past an idle Rogerio Ceni. Vagner Love was unlucky not to cap his performance with a goal but most importantly the Rio de Janeiro side claimed all three points.

The slender victory sends Flamengo into 14th position, seven points clear of the drop zone, while Sao Paulo hold onto fourth spot.

Best of the Rest

Gremio missed an opportunity to cut the deficit at the top, as they drew 0-0 with Coritiba, while Corinthians could only muster a 1-1 tie at home to Bahia. Nautico and Portuguesa also shared the spoils in a goalless encounter but a goal from Luan ensured Ponte Preta overcame Santos 1-0. Sport Recife secured a potentially huge 1-0 win away to bottom club Atletico Goianiense while Clarence Seedorf got on the scoresheet in Botafogo's 2-0 win at Figueirense.

Player of the Round

There can be little doubt that Ronaldinho was the best individual in Round 32 of the Brasileiro as he provided a performance that hearkened back to some of his brightest days at Camp Nou. He bewitched the opposition with his feet and also displayed his immense passing ability, picking out his team-mates in the build-up to two of Atletico Mineiro's goals. Defeating Fluminense was vital to keeping Galo's title aspirations alive and Ronaldinho was once more a huge part of that.