Atlético Mineiro completed a stunning comeback to keep themselves ahead of the rest on Saturday night, with three second half goals reversing a 3-1 deficit against Figueirense in Florianópolis.
Ronaldinho had given the Atlético an early lead, comfortably converting his 17th minute spot-kick, before some desperate defending saw them fall behind. Anderson Conceicao equalised after the visitors made a mess of their offside trap at a set-piece to equalise. Julio Cesar then waltzed into acres of space at the heart of O Golo’s defence to receive a pass from El Loco Abreu and round Vitor.
More poor defending saw Roni grab a third on the hour mark. Having already conceded more goals in an hour than they had in the previous eight matches of the season, and with shoulders visibly slumped, Coach Cuca later admitted he thought the game was up.
Instead, it was to become the evening when his side announced themselves as the first genuine title-contenders of the season, as they grabbed three goals in ten minutes to complete a dramatic comeback and keep themselves top of the table.
“It was a wonderful turnaround,’ said midfielder Pierre. "In the changing rooms, the atmosphere was one of pure euphoria. This result will help us all to continue this good run for a long time.”
Leonardo Silva pulled one back with a brave header before a fantastic move ended in Jô’s pinpoint cross for youngster Bernard to head home. Substitute Guilherme then came off the bench to mark his first appearance of the season with a well-taken winner. The former Dynamo Kyiv and CSKA forward has endured a torrid time with injuries, but may just have convinced Cuca he’s capable of leading the line for the rest of the season.
“He was energetic, and very involved in the play. We are very happy that he got the winning goal,” said the coach. ‘I can probably use him from now on, but we still hope to secure the return of Andre [from Dynamo Kyiv].”
“I’m glad to be back after so long,” said Guilherme, who like teammates Jô and Ronaldinho, feels he has something to prove. “But we'll see, I'm back now and I want to be in the team.”
Elsewhere, Copa Libertadores champions Corinthians grabbed their second win of the season with a 2-1 victory over Náutico, a Danilo brace enough to cancel out Elicarlos’ smart opener. Saturday’s other match saw Ponte Preta hammer Copa do Brasil runners-up Coritiba, with Roger grabbing a hat-trick.
Fluminense were pegged back on their visit to Botafogo, with Andrezinho’s header equalising Fred’s opener, but it wasn’t enough to stop Flu remaining the last unbeaten team in the league. Internacional played out a goalless draw with Santos in Porto Alegre whilst rivals Grêmio had better luck in front of goal, a Marcelo Moreno brace helping them on their way to a 3-1 win over Cruzeiro.
Flamengo got back to winning ways after losing the Flu-Fla derby last week, Renato Abreu’s penalty enough to take all three points in a 2-1 over Bahia. Palmeiras, having just been crowned Copa do Brasil champions, grabbed just their sixth point of the season in a 1-1 draw with Sao Paulo, and remain second from bottom; with Copa Libertadores qualification secured, the Verdão will be happy with a mid-table finish.
Vasco moved second, a point behind Atletico-MG, thanks to a Gabriel own goal that gave them a 1-0 win over Atlético GO, leaving the Goiânia outfit rooted to the bottom of the table with just two points. Sport moved up to 11th with a 2-1 win over Portuguesa.
Results & Highlights
Gaff of the Week: Sergio Manoel (Coritiba) – undone by the bobble.
Goal of the Week: Bernad (Atlético-MG)