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Soccer

Ronaldinho thrown for a loss again

August 21, 2008
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BEIJING - Ronaldinho's second chance to win Olympic gold ended like the first one - in disappointment.

Ronaldinho failed to lead Brazil past defending champion Argentina in the semifinals Tuesday at Workers' Stadium, falling short on his quest to give the nation its first Olympic title in football. Argentina won the match, 3-0.

"This is a great disappointment," Ronaldinho told Brazil's Terra TV. "As the oldest player in this team I tried to contribute as much as I could."

Ronaldinho was a member of the Brazilian squad that was eliminated by Cameroon in the quarterfinals of the 2000 Sydney Games. He was not eligible to play for the squad that failed to qualify for the 2004 Athens Games.

"We, Brazilians, don't know how to lose," he said. "We are always dejected by losses."

The 28-year-old Ronaldinho had an average match against Argentina, losing the duel with former FC Barcelona teammate Lionel Messi. While Messi set up two goals, Ronaldinho's best chance was a free kick that struck the post after Brazil was trailing.

Sergio Aguero scored for Argentina in the 52d and 58th minutes, and Juan Roman Riquelme sealed the victory - Argentina's first against Brazil in three years - in the 76th.

Argentina will now play Nigeria in its second straight final, while Brazil is preparing to play Belgium tomorrow for the bronze medal.

"We are not going to be playing for our top goal anymore," Ronaldinho said. "But that's what we have. So we have to try to motivate each other."

Brazil won bronze at the 1996 Atlanta Games, to go with silver medals in 1988 (Seoul) and 1984 (Los Angeles).

This year's Olympics was not a total disappointment for Ronaldinho, however. He came to China with doubts about how he would perform coming off his worst season in European football. The AC Milan player, who hadn't played a competitive match in nearly five months, showed signs he was returning to his best form. He scored twice in Brazil's 5-0 win over New Zealand in the group stage, and several times displayed the nifty skills that helped him win two FIFA Player of the Year awards.

"It was normal [Ronaldinho] couldn't play in these Olympics at the level everyone is used to seeing from him," Brazil coach Dunga said. "Without a doubt he was an example for the team on and off the field. He will still contribute a lot for the national team." (AP)

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