Libertadores Cup final: Ronaldinho and Bernard help Atletico Mineiro comeback against Olimpia before winning on penalties - News & Comment - Football - The Independent

Libertadores Cup final: Ronaldinho and Bernard help Atletico Mineiro comeback against Olimpia before winning on penalties

The Brazilian side scored a late equaliser in normal time

They needed penalties to do it, after coming back from 2-0 down, but last night Atletico Mineiro became South American champions for the first time, winning the Copa Libertadores at home in Belo Horizonte.

It was desperately close. Having lost the first leg 2-0 to Olimpia in Paraguay, Atletico had to overhaul that heavy deficit and with three minutes left they were only 1-0 up on the night. But Leonardo Silva’s header three minutes from the final whistle sent the game to extra-time, and from there to penalties, which Atletico won 4-3.

For this Atletico team it means something approaching football immortality – and for a legend of the Brazilian game, and for his possible successor too.

Ronaldinho has been the veteran inspiration of this Atletico side since he joined them from Flamengo last June. They came second in the Brazilian league last season and Ronaldinho, whom many thought finished, won the ‘Bola de Ouro’ for player of the year.

Now, having taken Atletico to this title, Ronaldinho’s return to South America looks almost as successful as his time in Europe. He is only the seventh player to win the Copa Libertadores and the Champions League, and only the fourth – after Dida, Cafu and Roque Junior – to win those two and the World Cup. His greatness is unambiguous.

Bernard is 12 years younger than Ronaldinho but has something of his cheeky imagination and style, his playground approach, and so has naturally been anointed as a successor or protégé to the one-time Barcelona No 10. It was Bernard’s perfect dipping cross to Leonardo Silva which made last night’s crucial equaliser. And the youngster is probably more likely to go to the World Cup next year, having been part of Brazil’s successful Confederations Cup squad earlier this summer. European clubs are starting to take a close look, and it would not be a surprise if he were to cross the Atlantic at some point soon.

And then there is Jô – the striker who has become almost a by-word for Manchester City’s transfer excesses, after scoring just one Premier League goal following his £17million transfer. But now, back in Brazil, he is scoring goals and winning trophies like never before. He scored Atletico’s first goal in this morning’s final, and finished as tournament top scorer. He went to the Confederations Cup – as a replacement for the injured Leandro Damiao – and scored twice there. No one who laughed at his performances in England can smirk at his return this summer.

One legend of Brazilian football, one boy-genius and a man rebuilding his career – they have achieved something no Atletico Mineiro players have done before and, if they stick together, they will be heading to Morocco for the Club World Cup in December.

Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke's video for 'Blurred Lines' has been criticised for condoning rape
music
News
Paper trail: the wedding photograph found in the rubble after 9/11 – it took Elizabeth Keefe 13 years to find the people in it
newsWho are the people in this photo? It took Elizabeth Stringer Keefe 13 years to find out
Voices
Yes supporters gather outside the Usher Hall, which is hosting a Night for Scotland in Edinburgh
voicesBen Judah: Is there a third option for England and Scotland that keeps everyone happy?
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Damon as Jason Bourne in The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)
filmMatt Damon in talks to return
News
peopleThe report and photo dedicated to the actress’s decolletage has, unsurprisingly, provoked anger
Arts and Entertainment
Evil eye: Douglas Adams in 'mad genius' pose
booksNew biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Life and Style
tech... and together they're worth at least £100 million
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
filmsDaniel Craig is believed to be donning skies as 007 for the first time
Arts and Entertainment
Fringe show: 'Cilla', with Sheridan Smith in the title role and Aneurin Barnard as her future husband Bobby Willis
tvEllen E Jones on ITV's 'Cilla'
Life and Style
Bono and Apple CEO Tim Cook announced U2's surprise new album at the iPhone 6 launch
tech(but you can't escape: Bono is always on your iPhone)
Sport
Tim Wiese
sport
Life and Style
Kim Kardashian drawn backlash over her sexy swimsuit selfie, called 'disgusting' and 'nasty'
fashionCritics say magazine only pays attention to fashion trends among rich, white women
Arts and Entertainment
TVShows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Arts and Entertainment
Hit the roof: hot-tub cinema east London
architectureFrom pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week