RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil:July 1 (Xinhua) — Ronaldinho’s Atletico Mineiro moved to the top of Brazil’s Serie A championship after an emotion-charged 1-0 away victory over Gremio on Sunday.
The two-time FIFA World Player of the Year was the target of constant abuse from fans of his former club, where he played from 1998 to 2001 before moving to Europe.
Despite his unwelcoming reception at the Olimpico Stadium, the former Barcelona and AC Milan star continued his impressive form with an array of trademark dribbles and deft one-touch passes. The winning goal came from the boot of striker Jo, who connected with Bernard’s 25th-minute cross before firing past goalkeeper Marcelo Grohe.
Ronaldinho’s teammate Leandro Donizete criticized Gremio fans for their treatment of the 2002 World Cup winner during the match. “The abuse didn’t stop throughout the entire match and it upset him,” Donizete said.
We dedicate the victory to him today.” After the match an emotional Ronaldinho is reported to have shouted in the players’ tunnel, within earshot of his former team’s dressing room, ‘It seems strangely quiet here now, doesn’t it?’
Atletico is now the championship leader with 16 points from seven games, the same as Vasco da Gama but with a superior goal difference.
Gremio, coached by former Real Madrid and Brazil manager Vanderlei Luxemburgo, is in fifth place with 12 points from seven games. (Xinhua)