Former Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain and AC Milan star Ronaldinho was instrumental in helping Brazilian side Atletico Mineiro defeat Paraguay’s Olimpia in a penalty shoot-out on Wednesday to win the Copa Libertadores for the first time.
Trailing 0-2 from the first leg, Atletico opened the scoring through the tournament’s leading scorer Jo in the 36th minute but had to wait until three minutes from time to snatch the equaliser through defender Leonardo Silva.
After a goalless extra-time, the final went to penalties which the Brazilians won 4-3 in front of 60,000 fans at the Mineirao Stadium.
A World Cup winner with Brazil in 2002 and Champions League winner with Barcelona in 2006, Ronaldinho returned to his home country in 2011 with his top ambition being to win the South American continental cup to go with his other honours.
“This is why I came back to Brazil,”, the two-time winner of the world player of the year award said. “Not long ago people were saying that I was done but we showed today that isn’t the case.”
Olimpia, aiming for their fourth Copa Libertadores title and first since 2002, were left rueing a host of golden goal opportunities.
“You can’t miss so many chances in a Copa final,” coach Ever Almeida said.
Atletico will now go on to represent South America at the World Club championships in Morocco in December alongside teams such as Bayern Munich and Mexican side Monterrey.
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