BELO HORIZONTE: Atletico Mineiro’s 5-2 victory over Arsenal of Sarandi in the Copa Libertadores was marred by fighting between members of the Argentine team and Brazilian military police on the pitch at the end of the match.
Ronaldinho had inspired Atletico, who had already qualified for the knockout phase, with two goals as they extended their perfect record in South America’s elite club competition to five wins in five Group Three matches.
Atletico, emerging as favourites to win the trophy for the first time, did fellow Brazilian side Sao Paulo a favour since they are vying with Arsenal for the group’s other berth in the round of 16.
Sao Paulo and Arsenal have four points apiece but the Brazilians can pull away if they beat Bolivia’s The Strongest at high altitude in La Paz on Thursday.
Reuters reported that “Brazilian police, who have a reputation of taking to the pitch at the slightest hint of trouble, were quick to use force to control angry Arsenal players who had confronted the match officials at the final whistle, including pointing guns at them.”
Minas Gerais police lieutenant colonel Cicero defended his men’s actions, saying: “It was criminal conduct, out of place at a football match. (The Argentines) could be arrested.”
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