Legends of the continent descended on the Copa Libertadores as the competition rolled into its second night of action last night, though some enjoyed a more fruitful night than others.
In Belo Horizonte, Ronaldinho was the star as Atletico-MG displayed their pedigree by despatching of compatriots Sao Paulo at Estadio Independencia.
The former FIFA World Play of the Year had once again flattered to deceive during another comeback for Brazil last week, but the 32 year-old has been reborn at club level since ripping up his contract with Flamengo last year.
His legs may have slowed in recent years but his speed of thought certainly has not, and it was his quick thinking that led to Jo opening the scoring on 13 minutes. While the Sao Paulo defence caught their breath as the hosts prepared to take a throw-in, Ronaldinho took up his position some fifteen yards beyond the last man and controlled before squaring for the former Manchester City and Everton striker to tap in from close range.
Atletico were forced to weather the storm at times as Sao Paulo went in search of an equaliser, with Luis Fabiano twice going close, but Ronaldinho would be the game’s protagonist, dribbling two defenders before crossing for Rever to head his side’s second with twenty minutes remaining.
Aloisio pulled one back for the visitors ten minutes later, and Ganso very nearly grabbed a late equaliser when he saw his shot flash past the post, but this was to be Ronnie’s night.
"Ronaldinho made the difference,” said coach Cuca. “He’s intelligent. You can't expect him to do certain things, like track back to defend, but his quality makes him a match winner.”
Over in Buenos Aires, two Libertadores legends looked on hopelessly as Boca Juniors surrendered their lead to Mexican club, Toluca. Juan Roman Riquelme returned to training on Monday, but is still some way off full fitness and had to take his seat in the stands.
Just below him stood the most winningest coach in the competition’s history, but Carlos Bianchi could do little as he team imploded following Santiago Silva’s first half penalty.
Julio Falcioni may not have been the most popular coach to ever have taken his place on the Boca bench, but the side been appear to have lost all the defensive solidity he achieved at La Bombonera prior to Bianchi’s return - and more errors at the back allowed the Mexicans to complete a famous turnaround as first Carlos Esquivel’s penalty and then a stunning finish from Edgar Benitez saw Toluca take all three points.
Elsewhere, Real Garcilaso played out a 1-1 draw with Independiente Santa Fe, Fred’s strike saw Fluminense past Caracas in Venezuela, and Juan Manuel Olivera’s winner gave Penarol a 2-1 victory away to Municipal Iquique.
Results and highlights
Atletico MG 2-1 Sao Paulo
Boca Juniors 1-2 Toluca
Municipal Iquique 1-2 Penarol
Real Garcilaso 1-1 Independiente Santa Fe
Caracas 0-1 Fluminense