Atletico defeats rival Cruzeiro
Ronaldinho scored one goal and set up another as Atletico Mineiro drew 2-2 with rival Cruzeiro on Sunday to keep its lead at the halfway point of the Brazilian league.
Ronaldinho put Atletico Mineiro ahead in the 84th minute before Cruzeiro equalized in injury time, but the draw was still enough to give Atletico a one-point lead over second place Fluminense, which edged Vasco da Gama 2-1 on Saturday.
Atletico Mineiro, which still has a game in hand, has 43 points from 19 matches. Fluminense has 42 points, Gremio 37 and Vasco 35.
Also Sunday, former Brazil striker Luis Fabiano scored twice as fifth place Sao Paulo beat defending champion Corinthians 2-1 at the Pacaembu stadium, while Flamengo drew with rival Botafogo 0-0 in Rio de Janeiro.
On Saturday, Neymar scored twice to give Santos a 2-1 come-from-behind win over Palmeiras, which is now in the relegation zone.
Cruzeiro opened the scoring at the Independencia stadium in Belo Horizonte with a goal by striker Wallyson in the 17th, but defender Leonardo Silva equalized for Atletico in first-half injury time with a well-placed curling volley from inside the area after a corner taken by Ronaldinho.
The former two-time world player of the year then scored after getting past a defender inside the area and firing a low shot past Cruzeiro goalkeeper Fabio.
Cruzeiro, which went a man up when Atletico Mineiro midfielder Pierre was sent off in the 82nd, pressed forward until getting the equalizer by right back Mateus after a pass by Argentine playmaker Walter Montillo in the fourth and final minute of injury time. Montillo had struck the crossbar with a free kick in the 90th.
The result extended Atletico Mineiro’s unbeaten streak to 13 matches.
The game was briefly interrupted early in the second half because Cruzeiro fans began throwing objects on the field after Atletico striker Bernard and Cruzeiro midfielder Leandro Guerreiro got into an altercation that eventually prompted both players to be sent off.
Also Sunday, Sao Paulo ended a seven-year winless streak against Corinthians at the Pacaembu, the stadium where the rival hosts its matches.
Corinthians, 12th in the standings, scored first with striker Emerson just five minutes into the match, but Fabiano equalized in the 62nd and netted the winner in a breakaway in the 69th.
Flamengo had most of the scoring opportunities against Clarence Seedorf’s Botafogo but was not able to capitalize on its chances at the Joao Havelange Stadium, known locally as the Engenhao. In Flamengo’s best chance, substitute striker Liedson struck the crossbar with a late header. Flamengo, still without recently signed striker Adriano, is ninth in the standings, while Botafogo is seventh.
On Saturday, Fluminense stayed close to Atletico Mineiro after playmaker Thiago Neves scored in the 72nd and 86th minutes to give the team its fifth win in six matches.
Vasco, last year’s runner up to Corinthians, got on the board with an own goal by Fluminense defender Gum in the 73rd.
Also Saturday, Santos snapped a winless streak that lasted more than three years against Palmeiras.
Luiz Felipe Scolari’s team opened the scoring at the Pacaembu with a goal by midfielder Correa in the 41st, but Neymar rallied Santos to the win by converting a long range free kick in the 43rd and scoring the go-ahead goal in the 63rd with a low shot from outside the area. It was Santos’ third win in a row in the national league.
The result moved Santos to 10th, while Palmeiras continues to struggle and is only 17th in the standings with 16 points from 19 matches, in the relegation zone. Palmeiras has lost three of its last four matches.
In other results Sunday, World Cup veteran midfielder Elano scored early in the first half to give Gremio a 1-0 win over rival Internacional at the Beira-Rio stadium in Porto Alegre, while striker Aloisio scored a hat trick in Figueirense’s 3-1 win over Coritiba in Florianopolis.