Ronaldinho's Atletico Mineiro leads in Brazil
By TALES AZZONI
SAO PAULO (AP) Ronaldinho's Atletico Mineiro took the Brazilian league lead on Sunday by beating Gremio 1-0 with a goal by former Manchester City striker Jo.
Jo scored the winner in the 26th minute off a cross by forward Bernard, who flicked the ball over two defenders before finding his teammate in front of the net. Ronaldinho took the free kick which started the play.
Atletico Mineiro moved to 16 points, level with Vasco da Gama but ahead on goal differential after seven rounds.
Vasco defeated Ponte Preta 3-2 on Saturday in Rio de Janeiro, while third-place Fluminense beat Nautico in Recife 2-0 with both goals set up by former Chelsea playmaker Deco.
Argentine striker Hernan Barcos and Paraguay defender Adalberto Roman scored a goal each as Palmeiras defeated Figueirense 3-1 for its first league win.
Atletico Mineiro earned its fifth victory at a packed Olimpico stadium in the southern city of Porto Alegre. Jo easily found the net from the six-meter line after Bernard's remarkable run near the end line after Ronaldinho's corner kick went across the area. He got past two defenders by flicking the ball over each of them, then calmly sent the ball to Jo for the winner.
Gremio played the final 10 minutes a man down because midfielder Anderson Pico was sent off for a hard foul.
Ronaldinho began his career playing for Gremio and was loudly jeered by the fans in Porto Alegre because he didn't want to return to the club after leaving European football.
"They are all quiet now," the former two-time world player of the year said after the match.
On Saturday, Vasco da Gama temporarily regained the lead with the victory over Ponte Preta at the Sao Januario stadium. Cruzeiro missed a chance to stay atop the standings after losing at home 3-2 to Sao Paulo, which got goals from young Brazilian star Lucas and veteran striker Luis Fabiano in its first match since coach Emerson Leao was fired.
Also Saturday, former Portugal playmaker Deco took free kicks that led to both goals scored by striker Samuel in Fluminense's 2-0 win over Nautico, leaving the club third in the standings with 15 points, one more than fourth-place Cruzeiro after seven rounds. Fluminense is the only unbeaten team left.
Defending champion Corinthians had its match against Botafogo postponed because it is in the final of the Copa Libertadores, Latin America's most important club competition. Corinthians drew Boca Juniors 1-1 in the first leg in Argentina and can win the title with a victory at home on Wednesday.
Botafogo this weekend announced that it has signed Dutch midfielder Clarence Seedorf on a two-year contract, calling it the biggest ever signing of an international player by a Brazilian club.
Defending Copa Libertadores champion Santos continued its struggles, drawing Portuguesa 0-0 at the Caninde stadium and remaining in the relegation zone with five points. Santos remained winless even though it played with Brazil duo Neymar and Paulo Henrique Ganso.
In other results Sunday, Bahia drew Internacional 1-1 in Pituacu, while Coritiba lost 3-2 to Sport at home despite a 2-0 advantage. Coritiba played with its second-stringers because of the Brazilian Cup final, which will begin on Thursday against Palmeiras, which also rested several regular starters in its victory over Figueirense.
Palmeiras trailed early at the Arena Barueri just outside Sao Paulo, but rebounded to get the victory which left it with five points, still in the relegation zone but ahead of Santos, Corinthians and Atletico Goianiense.
Atletico Goianiense and Santos are the only two teams yet to win in this year's tournament.
Atletico Goianiense lost 3-2 to Flamengo, which got two goals from midfielder Renato at the Engenhao stadium in Rio de Janeiro, easing the pressure from some fans who want former South Africa coach Joel Santana fired because of the team's recent disappointing results. Brazil's most popular club, Flamengo is eight in the standings.
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Updated July 1, 2012