Ronaldinho was the talisman for Atletico Mineiro, who downed Sao Paulo 2-1 in front of a wild crowd to open their Copa Libertadores campaign.
Ronaldinho brought back memories of his Barcelona glory days on Wednesday night in Belo Horizonte. The Brazilian was lively and creative, setting up chances left and right, two of which earned him assists as Atletico Mineiro downed Sao Paulo 2-1 in the opening match of the Copa Libertadores group stage.
The match was all Atletico to start and paid off 13 minutes in when Ronaldinho set up the first goal of the match. He took a throw in down the right and found himself free inside the 18. Jo was making a quick run right up the middle and Ronaldinho delivered a low ross right on the money. Jo didn't even have to shoot, which he didn't. Instead, he just tumbled over the ball from a yard out, but that was enough to get it over the line and put Atletico in front.
The rest of the first half was a exhibition for Atletico. Sao Paulo couldn't close them down and they were able to get into the attack third, and even into the box, with regularity. Their shooting betrayed them, though, as did some late Sao Paulo blocks, and they had to go into halftime up just 1-0.
A different Sao Paulo team came out in the second half and they took it to Atletico for stretches, but they struggled to find the final ball to turn their control into chances. All of their work led to nothing and kept Atletico in front.
That bit them in the 72nd minute when Ronaldinho worked his magic once again. At the egde of the 18 he danced past one defender, then another to get free down the right, where he delivered a perfect cross. The ball was right on Rever's head, who made no mistake with a good headed finish. The Estadio Mineirao crowd exploded, sending victory, but it wouldn't be easy.
Eight minutes from time, Aloisio brought Sao Paulo within one when he skipped in behind the Atletico defense and finished well to make it 2-1. Sao Paulo continued to pour on pressure and in stoppage time, they got Ganso a golden opportunity, but the substitute hit his shot just wide. Atletico, powered by Ronaldinho and an electric crowd, managed to hold on for all three points in a wonderful opening to Group 3.