Bayern Munich beat Barcelona in the UEFA Champions League. Monterrey beat Santos Laguna to win the Concacaf Champions League.
Atlético finished eight points above its Brazilian rival in the group stage.
São Paulo looked to its fans for the game against the team from Belo Horizonte. More than 57,000 supporters packed the Morumbi. They welcomed the evening’s opponents with noise and loathing.
São Paulo enjoyed the majority of possession. They might have built a big lead except for three misses by Ademilson.
The ill-tempered match grew heated in the 25th minute when Atlético defender Marcos Rocha jumped on Thiago Carleto’s leg. Players from both sides surrounded the Paraguayan referee, Antonio Arias. Some demanding a red card, others begging for leniency. Arias approached Marcos Rocha and showed him a yellow card. It could have been red, and perhaps it should have been.
Ten minutes later, the Brazilian national team veteran Lúcio grew frustrated with Atlético’s tricky forward Bernard. He lunged at him with a high challenge. Arias showed him a second yellow card and ejected Lúcio for the tackle. In a postmatch interview São Paulo goalkeeper Rogério Ceni said his teammate had made a “fatal error.”
The Brazilian news media were more direct: Globo Esporte called Lúcio’s kick “childish” and Lance said it was “grotesque.” The ejection changed the game.
Seven minutes later, Ronaldinho backed off his marker and placed an inch-perfect header into the back of the São Paulo goal from Bernard’s corner.
After Lúcio’s dismissal, Atlético players saw three more yellow cards. São Paulo tried to hang on for the draw in the first match of the home-and-home series.
At the hour mark, a noticeably slimmed-down Ronaldinho released Bernard who found Marcos Rocha just outside the box. The right back threaded a pass through the defense to Diego Tardelli, who sliced a shot past the on-rushing Rogério Ceni.
São Paulo would not recover.