Ronaldinho thrills, Atletico tops Figueirense 6-0
European Football Headlines
(AP Photo/Andre Penner)
By TALES AZZONI
AP Sports Writer
SAO PAULO (AP) Ronaldinho scored three goals and set up two others in a remarkable performance as Atletico Mineiro routed 10-man Figueirense 6-0 on Saturday, but it was not enough to move the team closer to Fluminense atop the Brazilian league.
Fluminense beat Rio de Janeiro rival Botafogo with a second-half winner by striker Fred, keeping a six-point advantage over Atletico with 10 matches to go.
Third-placed Gremio edged Cruzeiro 2-1 in Porto Alegre to stay nine points back, while fourth-place Vasco da Gama defeated Atletico Goianiense 1-0 to remain 12 points off the lead.
The 32-year-old Ronaldinho had one of his best matches since returning to Brazilian football nearly two years ago.
The former Barcelona star opened the scoring in the 12th minute with an outstanding curling shot from a tough angle at the Independencia stadium in Belo Horizonte.
The shot from outside the area in the left flank went high across the area and into the right upper corner, hitting the post before going in. It wasn't clear if the former two-time world player of the year was trying to make a cross or if he shot on goal.
Ronaldinho's stepfather died of a heart attack on Friday and the player appeared moved after the goal. He celebrated by kneeling down and apparently prayed briefly, without holding back tears.
Ronaldinho made a perfect free kick cross for defender Rever's goal from a header in the 24th, then scored his second in the match by striking a free kick shot underneath the wall in the 32nd.
Ronaldinho's third goal came from the penalty spot in the 63rd after striker Jo was fouled inside the area off a corner taken by the former Brazil playmaker, who made a run from the midfield before setting up Bernard's low cross shot for Atletico's fifth goal in the 68th.
Ronaldinho, who joined Atletico Mineiro in the middle of the year after a controversial exit from Flamengo, has increased his goal tally to eight in the Brazilian league.
Substitute right back Carlos Cesar scored the sixth goal in the 82nd, giving Atletico the tournament's biggest victory so far.
Figueirense, second-to-last in the 20-team standings, played a man down from the 33rd after defensive midfielder Jackson received his second yellow card for a hard foul on Atletico forward Bernard. Jackson's first yellow had come just four minutes earlier.
But the convincing victory - the team's first in four matches - did little to help Atletico in its chase of Fluminense, which edged Clarence Seedorf's Botafogo with a goal by Fred in the 73rd at the Engenhao stadium in Rio de Janeiro.
Fred scored his league-leading 14th goal from near the penalty spot after a low cross by Wellington Nem, giving 2010 champion Fluminense its third win in a row.
Third-place Gremio came from behind to beat Cruzeiro 2-1 at the Olimpico stadium in Porto Alegre behind a winner by Bolivia striker Marcelo Moreno, staying three points behind Atletico Mineiro.
Vasco da Gama remained fourth by beating last-place Atletico Goianiense 1-0 with an 87th-minute goal by World Cup veteran Juninho Pernambucano at the Serra Dourada stadium in Goiania. Atletico Goianiense played a man down from the 22nd after defender Gustavo was red carded for complaining over a foul.
Fifth-place Sao Paulo routed Palmeiras 3-0 at the Morumbi stadium with two goals by Brazil striker Luis Fabiano, keeping the rival deep in relegation zone. The result extended Sao Paulo's 10-year unbeaten streak against Palmeiras at the Morumbi. Palmeiras, coming off two straight wins, had defender Artur sent off in the 54th with a second yellow card. It remains six points from safety.
Peru striker Paolo Guerrero scored the lone goal for defending champion Corinthians in the team's 2-1 loss to Nautico in Recife. Corinthians, focused on the club World Cup in December, is only eighth in the standings.
Santos, without suspended striker Neymar, was held by Internacional to a 1-1 draw at the Vila Belmiro stadium. Santos is in 14th place and Internacional is sixth.
On Thursday, Portuguesa trounced Sport 5-1 at the Caninde stadium in Sao Paulo behind a hat trick by striker Bruno Mineiro, who also has 14 goals. Coritiba opened a five-point cushion from relegation zone with a 1-0 over Ponte Preta in Curitiba, while Flamengo and Bahia drew 0-0 at the Engenhao.
No matches will be played Sunday because of municipal elections across Brazil.
Follow Tales Azzoni at http://twitter.com/tazzoni
Updated October 6, 2012