SHANGHAI, China (AFP) - Brazil overcame their deep frustration at not making the men's Olympic football final by putting away Belgium 3-0 to take the bronze medal consolation prize at Shanghai Stadium here Friday.
Goals by Diego and Jo in the first half and a second from Jo on full-time settled the outcome.
It was the second time they had met in these Olympics, after Brazil narrowly won their opening pool match 1-0, but this time the samba boys were not as laid back.
Although clearly demoralised by their 3-0 semi-final loss to Argentina, they had inspirational captain Ronaldinho to re-ignite their motivation with a masterful display in the midfield.
And the AC Milan star announced he was firmly back on the world stage.
"One month ago I was deciding about my life without playing for four months. Then the reality was totally different. From now, it's the return of Ronaldinho football," he said.
"We came here for gold, but we didn't deserve to beat Argentina.
"Now the bronze medal may not be important from a Brazilian's point of view but in the future we will be proud of it."
Werder Bremen midfielder Diego also pleaded for Brazilian fans to proud of the medal, even if it is bronze.
"We deserve respect as a group of players because we took some criticism after the defeat to Argentina," he said.
"Everyone came to China for a medal and we got one. It's not what we were expecting at the beginning but it's one of the most important awards."
Ronaldinho created numerous opportunities through the first half starting with a header that just sailed over the bar in the opening minutes.
A free kick by Ronaldinho then found Alex Silva unmarked to the right of the goal but his header went wide.
Belgium were able to absorb the pressure for the first quarter of the game, assisted by a lack of precision when it counted by Brazil, before Diego found the net to open the scoring.
A build up down the right flank by Manchester City's Jo had Belgium scrambling at the back.
In a quick one-two, Jo fed Rafinha whose cross to the goal mouth was picked by Diego with a first touch strike that Bailly had no chance of getting to.
A desperate Belgium fought to level the score and chances in quick succession by Maarten Martens and Thomas Vermaelen went dangerously close before Brazil came back to close out the half with a late goal by Jo.
Belgium refused to lie down but man-on-man pressure, while restricting the Brazilians, did not bear fruit for the Europeans with their best opportunity, a long-range shot by Kevin Mirallas easily covered by Renan.
The Brazilian goalkeeper was also called up on the last 10 minutes and deflected away a right-foot attempt by Sepp de Roover.
Brazil rarely troubled Bailly in the second half until time was up and a solo effort by Jo saw him take the ball just inside the Belgium and weave his way into the clear to hammer home Brazil's third goal.
The bronze medals adds to Brazil's collection of two silvers (1984, 1988) and another bronze at Atlanta in 1996, but again the one prize they want, an Olympic gold medal, has eluded the five times world champion.
Belgium at least have the history books to show they won the Olympic final at the 1920 Antwerp Games.
|Ligue 1 Review: Title chasers´ slip-ups go unpunished|
|La Liga Review: Real and Atletico suffer frustrating draws|
|Primeira Liga Review: Porto´s Tello dents Sporting´s title hopes|
|Monaco 0 PSG 0: Champions miss chance to go top|
|Real Madrid 1 Villarreal 1: Moreno leveller ensures stalemate|
|Simeone satisfied with Sevilla point|
|Henry: Chelsea can win a trophy treble this season|
|Mancini frustrated by ´hesitant´ Inter|
|Sevilla 0 Atletico Madrid 0: Simeone´s men in fiery draw|
|Pochettino upbeat despite League Cup defeat|
|Inter 0 Fiorentina 1: Montella´s men end San Siro wait|
|Bundesliga Review: Wolfsburg edge eight-goal thriller, Monchengladbach win|
|Mourinho revels in ´beautiful´ League Cup success|
|Eredivisie Review: PSV lose home record as Ajax close the gap|
|Terry thrilled by ´massive´ League Cup final win|
|Chelsea 2 Tottenham 0: Mourinho´s men seal League Cup success|
|Coquelin sustains broken nose|
|Wenger hails Giroud character after Everton goal|
|Everton not getting what they deserve - Martinez|
|Coutinho is coming of age at Anfield - Rodgers|
|Football League Preview: Wolves in the hunt for back-to-back promotions|
|Norwich City 2 Ipswich Town 0: Neil´s men go third with derby triumph|
|Southampton v Crystal Palace: Fonte focusing on big picture|
|Arsenal 2 Everton 0: Giroud strikes to silence doubters|
|Dynamo Dresden v Borussia Dortmund: Hummels eager to build on derby win|
|Rodgers tips hat to relentless Liverpool|
|City facing uphill challenge to retain title - Pellegrini|
|Celtic 4 Aberdeen 0: Champions dominate top-of-the-table clash|
|Lallana hails ´massive´ win as Liverpool´s top-four charge continues|
|Hull City v Sunderland: Cattermole allowing no excuses against ´bogey team´|
|Liverpool 2 Manchester City 1: Coutinho dents City´s title hopes|
|Sunderland to appeal Brown red card|
|Aston Villa v West Brom: Sherwood looking for confidence boost|
|Allegri not taking risks on Vidal and Pogba|
|Pardew defends Jedinak over Sakho elbow|
|Heldt apologises after Schalke´s derby humbling|
|Milan must give that bit extra - Bocchetti|
|Rooney: Brown red must be rescinded|
|Monk hails Swansea´s versatility|
|Melbourne Victory 2 Wellington Phoenix 3: Hosts miss chance to go top|
|Rodgers: Top-four finish would be bigger than last season´s effort|
|Batman and Robin ´a bit of fun´ - Reus|
|Rakitic feeling better after ending goal drought|
|Copa Libertadores Preview: Well-rested Cruzeiro ready for Universitario|
|Fournier fuming after Lyon loss|
|DFB Pokal Preview: Gladbach visit rusty Offenbach|
|Mourinho: Tottenham approached me|
|Primeira Liga Review: Birthday boys Benfica hit Estoril for six|
|Inzaghi finds positives in lacklustre display|
|Eredivisie Review: AZ move third, Propper fires Vitesse to victory|
|Chievo 0 Milan 0: Pressure back on Inzaghi|
|Bundesliga Review: Derby win for Dortmund superheroes, Leverkusen go fourth|
|Ligue 1 Review: Lyon loss leaves door open for PSG|
|Bueno nets perfect hat-trick in four-goal spree for Rayo|
|Carver impressed with Newcastle´s fighting spirit|
|Van Gaal explains Di Maria decision|
|Luis Enrique angered by Granada pitch|
|Sherwood confident of Villa survival|
|Referee East says ´no mistaken identity´ as Poyet pledges to look again|
|League One Review: Robertson and Johnson off to winning starts, Bristol City go eight clear|
|Bruce angered by missed decision|
|Berahino can be ´top class´ - Pulis|
|Grateful Gutierrez thanks ´special´ fans|
|Monk targets Swansea points record|
|Klopp´s ´perfect´ afternoon|
|Victory soured by Ireland injury, says Hughes|
|Championship Review: Middlesbrough´s opportunity missed as Derby are defeated|
|Koeman: I am realistic on Champions League|
|League Two Review: Burton beaten again, Hartlepool gain welcome lift|
|´Triple punishment´ rule could be scrapped|
|Scottish Premiership Review: Inverness slip up as strugglers prosper|
|Mancini wary of Fiorentina quality|
|Hearts attack hits double figures in Scotland|
|West Brom 1 Southampton 0: Berahino wins it, then limps off|
|Manchester United 2 Sunderland 0: Rooney at the double amid red card controversy|
|Newcastle United 1 Aston Villa 0: Cisse strike downs visitors|
|Stoke City 1 Hull City 0: Super sub Crouch secures win|
|Granada 1 Barcelona 3: Suarez inspires routine win|
|Burnley 0 Swansea City 1: Trippier own goal proves decisive|
|Borussia Dortmund 3 Schalke 0: Late show seals dominant derby win|
|Referee Dowd fails to make it through West Brom, Saints clash|
|Allardyce ´shocked´ after home loss|
|Pardew lauds Murray after ´mixed afternoon´ for striker|
|West Ham 1 Crystal Palace 3: Pardew enjoys more away-day success|
|Blanc: PSG prepared for confident Monaco|
|Ancelotti: Isco place is non-negotiable|
|Pellegrini out to end dismal record at Anfield|
|Roma v Juventus: Matri eyes glory in title tussle|
|Martinez wary of wounded Arsenal|
|A-League Review: Spectacular Sydney derby the highlight|
|Perez to testify in corruption case|
|Bentaleb determined to avoid European hangover|
|Liverpool cannot dwell on Europa exit, says Rodgers|
|Marquinhos welcomes Manchester United interest|
|Tottenham must be ´nearly perfect´ to beat Chelsea - Pochettino|
|Bielsa: I take responsibility|
|League Cup final ´most important´ for Mourinho|
|Rodgers unsure if European exit will be a blessing|
|Vitoria Guimaraes 1 Maritimo 0: Hosts end winless run|