Chennai: Former Brazil star Ronaldinho set the Jawaharlal Nehru Indoor Stadium here alight with a virtuoso five-goal performance as Goa 5s ran down Bengaluru 5s 7-2 in an entertaining Premier Futsal clash on Sunday.
Ronaldinho and former England and Manchester United star Paul Scholes shared the same pitch after a hiatus of eight years, with the duo last facing off in 2008. The Brazilian had disappointed in the first game against Kolkata 5s, struggling to keep pace. But he looked much better right from the start, setting up teammate Rafael who struck the post in the opening minute, as Goa enjoyed the better start.
The Barcelona legend had the crowd in raptures with a brilliant goal in the sixth minute, as a corner from the left was laid off to him in the box. But he exquisitely side-stepped the diving goalkeeper and slotted into an empty net to give Goa the lead.
Bengaluru came back right at the end of the first quarter, as Maximiliano scored a brilliant solo goal, slotting in from a narrow angle after a quick stepover past the goalkeeper.
The second quarter started with Bengaluru taking the lead through Jonathan Piers, who collected a pass and slammed it home with his left foot. Their joy was short-lived as Ronaldinho decided this was the moment to give everyone a glimpse of his quality.
First, he scored with an accurate shot when surrounded by two defenders and a diving Bengaluru custodian. The Brazilian maestro then completed his hat-trick and gave Goa a comeback lead with a first time reflex shot. Rafael set Ronaldinho up with an accurate pass sending the Chennai crowd wild, with the score at the end of the second quarter, 3-2 in Goa’s favour.
Scholes struggled to influence the game in the third quarter, but Ronaldinho continued to toy with the Bengaluru defence, first with a series of dazzling ball control and then a mazing dribbling run.
Scholes responded with a calm nutmeg of his own, before rolling back the years and setting up Jonathan with a lofted cross-field ball, but the Bengaluru forward’s shot at an open goal was weak, and cleared off the line.
If there was any doubt about his quality left, Ronaldinho obliterated it with a cheeky fourth goal in the 32nd minute, lofting the ball over a defender and into the net with Bengaluru goalkeeper Elias stranded upfield. Yet another Indian player made the scoresheet with Marshall making it 5-2 moments later tapping the ball from a yard out after Vampeta’s shot.
Vampeta repeated the trick at the end, seeing up Rafael to volley home the sixth for Goa, with Ronaldinho also having the time to miss a late penalty, before slotting home his fifth of the night from a counter. The third quarter saw a lot of end to end play with both Ronaldinho and Scholes showing their experience in keeping the ball.
The Chennai crowd cheered for the Brazilian legend right until the final whistle. The deafening Ronaldinho cheers were well received by the 2002 World Cup winner as he played along with the crowds and also shook a leg for them.
While speaking to the media before the match, Ronaldinho said, “It’s amazing to know that some people in India are thinking of it. When I learned that Figo, Salgado and Scholes were all going to be involved in Premier Futsal, it was just reaffirming my decision to be a part of this ‘first’ in Indian history.”
“There is potential in India and there is a lot of following of European football here. This could be a start of something really special and I am happy to be a part of Premier Futsal with so many stalwarts who have played the game.”