BY MARK GODFREY
Ronaldinho’s Atlético Mineiro dragged themselves back from a 2-0 first leg deficit to complete an incredible comeback in the Copa Libertadores final against Olimpia. The Belo Horizonte based club battered their Paraguayan opponents throughout the 90 minutes and the 30 minute extra-time period. Former Manchester City and Everton forward, Jô, scored the first just after half time before Leonardo Silva brought the aggregate scores level with just three minutes of normal time remaining.
Having wasted countless opportunities to win the trophy in normal play, Mineiro had to endure the agony of a penalty shootout before triumphing. Olimpia missed their first and fourth spot kicks allowing Mineiro to win 4-2. The win by Cuca’s side was the club’s first continental success. Following the celebrations, Mineiro could be forgiven for their 4-1 league defeat at the hands of city rivals, Cruzeiro, just a few days later.
Ricardo Goulart scored twice in the win, which in combination with results elsewhere, shot Marcelo Oliveira’s men into first place in the standings. The leaders from previous weeks, Botafogo and Coritiba, were both held to 1-1 draws by Flamengo and Vitória respectively.
Long-term Tottenham Hotspur transfer target, Leandro Damião, scored Internacional’s winner at São Paulo which catapulted them into top spot, albeit briefly, before they squandered their opportunity to stretch into a greater advantage after their shock 3-0 surrender to bottom club, Náutico.
Meanwhile, things just went from bad to worse for reigning champs, Fluminense. They suffered yet another loss, their fifth in a row, going down 2-0 at Grêmio. Next up for them is another daunting task when they welcome the leaders, Cruzeiro, to Rio. Should Cruzeiro fail to take maximum points from Fluminense, victories for Coritiba or Bahia could send them to the head of the pack with both Botafogo and Internacional not in action until the first week of August.