Brasileiro Round 28: Ronaldinho hat-trick keeps Atletico Mineiro's title hopes alive

The former Barcelona and AC Milan star showed class is permanent with an imperious display, having a hand in five of his team's six goals, to keep Galo in the hunt for championship

Brasileiro: Round 28 Results


Atletico Mineiro 6-0 Figueirense

Atletico Mineiro got their title bid back on track, ending a four-game winless streak by thrashing Figueirense 6-0 at the Independencia.

The hosts were in control from the off and it took them only 12 minutes to move ahead of the struggling Florianopolis side. Following a short corner routine with Bernard, Ronaldinho bent a speculative shot towards the back post and the effort, catching Wilson out and dropping in at the back post to complete a stunning strike. Midway through the half Galo moved two goals clear as Rever latched onto the two-time World Player of the Year's clipped free-kick to nod in at the back post. Ronaldinho then ensured a comfortable three-goal cushion at the break as he slid an ingenious 20-yard free-kick under the wall and into the bottom corner.

The Alvinegro did not ease up after the restart and after a quick scare when Figueira hit the post, Ronaldinho completed his hat-trick when he squeezed home a penalty with 63 minutes on the clock. Five minutes later the hosts made it five goals on Saturday night and once more the former Barcelona and AC Milan star was involved, slipping a pass to Bernard who fired past Wilson at the near post. The rout was completed seven minutes from time with a fittingly brilliant goal as Carlos Cesar looped the ball over his defender and rifled a volley into the bottom corner.

Atletico Mineiro stay in second position, six points adrift of Fluminense at the top of the table, while Figueirense's battle against relegation looks ever-more difficult, 10 points adrift of safety in 19th position.

Nautico 2-1 Corinthians

Corinthians climb up the table was halted as they were beaten 2-1 by newly-promoted Nautico at the Estadio dos Aflitos.

The Timbu have made their home a fortress this season and the defeat of the reigning champions meant they have only been defeated twice in 14 games in front of their own fans this season. They got off to a brilliant start, controlling possession and pushing the Timao onto the back foot. Their impressive attacking play paid dividends in the 31st minute as Kieza controlled a long pass from Jean Rolt brilliantly on the right flank. He then cut inside, holding off a number of defenders before slotting the ball under Cassio for his 10th of the season.

Corinthians rallied and managed to get an equaliser before the half-time whistle as some lax defending was pounced upon by Paulinho. The Inter target bulldozed his way into the area and poked a pass to Jose Paolo Guerrero who then stabbed in his second goal for the Brazilian side. From then on, with the game finely poised, the action subsided and the encounter grew stale. After making a fantastic block to stop Nautico from taking the lead, Ralf's night ended in disappointment as he headed Rogerio's cross into his own goal.

Victory lifts the Recife side up to ninth position where they sit two points behind eighth-placed Corinthians.

Sao Paulo 3-0 Palmeiras

After a recent improvement in form, Sao Paulo brought Palmeiras back down to earth with a straightforward 3-0 triumph at the Morumbi.

Going into the game between the Paulista rivals, Gilson Kleina had a 100 per cent record from his first three games at the Verdao helm. Two of those league wins came against other struggling sides and the Tricolor Paulista proved to be at a whole other level on Saturday. The match was relatively even during the opening stages but Palmeiras were lacking fluidity up top, with Jorge Valdivia and Daniel Carvalho off the pace. The deadlock was finally broken in the 35th minute as, following a swift counter-attack, Luis Fabiano tapped in from close range after Lucas Moura's shot came back off the post. Ney Franco's men doubled their lead on the stroke of half time as Arsenal-owned Denilson fired in a spectacular 35-yard volley.

It failed to get any easier for the Alviverde after the break as within nine minutes of the restart, Artur was dismissed after picking up his second yellow card of the game. With all their substitutes used, Palmeiras were then reduced to nine men as Valdivia was forced to leave the field through injury midway through the half. Sao Paulo took full advantage as they completed an impressive win when Paulo Miranda showed a delicate touch to flick in Luis Fabiano who then lashed a powerful volley past Bruno, who was left with no chance of keeping it out.

The win ensures Sao Paulo remain in the hunt for a Copa Libertadores spot from fifth position while Palmeiras need at least six points to exit the drop zone form 18th place.

Portuguesa 5-1 Sport Recife

Portuguesa took a huge step towards safety with a thumping 5-1 trouncing of Sport Recife and Caninde with Bruno Mineiro once more the star of the show.

It looked as though somewhat of an upset could be on the cards when, after the hosts had hit the bar twice and with just 16 minutes played, Sport took the lead. Former Real Madrid full-back Cicinho sent in a brilliant cross from the right which an unmarked Hugo forced into the net with a strong header. But Lusa have proved to have players capable of changing games this season and they came good later in the half. Firstly, Ananias tore down the right flank and picked out Bruno Mineiro, who ran from back post to front post, and slammed the ball past Magrao.

Bruno Mineiro then pounced quickest as Gustavo's looped effort rebounded off the woodwork to put Portuguesa ahead just three minutes into the second half. Bruno Mineiro then completed his hat-trick by controlling Moises' header brilliantly and finding the bottom corner with his left-footed strike. Geninho's side were unrelenting and moved three-goals clear when a failed clearance from Renan was capitalised upon by Moises, who showed immense composure to bide his time and create an opening in the box. There was still time for another as late substitute Rodriguinho produced a tidy first-time finish from Luis Ricardo's pass despite only being on the pitch for two minutes.

Portuguesa now occupy 11th position while Sport stay in the first relegation spot, in 17th place, five points from Coritiba and safety.

Best of the Rest

Flamengo dropped down to 12th position following a 0-0 draw with Bahia which was the Round's only goalless game. Elsewhere in Rio de Janeiro, Fred was once more the difference as his strike handed Fluminense a 1-0 win over Botafogo. Coritiba secured a huge victory as they defeated Ponte Preta 1-0 at the Couto Pereira while a late Juninho Pernambucano strike saw Vasco da Gama past Atletico Goianiense by the same score. Internacional lost ground in the fight for Libertadores football as the drew 1-1 with a Neymar-less Santos and Gremio kept their faint title hopes alive, beating Celso Roth's struggling Cruzeiro 2-1 in Porto Alegre.

Player of the Round
In a performance that harked back to his world-beating best, Ronaldinho was in red-hot form as Atletico Mineiro brushed aside the challenge of Figueirense. The 32-year-old showed he still possessed the immense technique that made him one of the world's greatest footballers with two fantastic first-half strikes. He completed his hat-trick from the spot, but also had a hand in another two of his side's goals. Ronaldinho has found the perfect home in Belo Horizonte and with a few more similar displays, Galo may yet get their hands on their first Brasileirao since 1971.