Goa 5s ran down Bengaluru 5s 7-2 as Ronaldinho set alight the Jawaharlal Nehru Indoor Stadium in Chennai with a virtuoso five goal performance, the best of Premier Futsal so far.
Ronaldinho and Paul Scholes shared the same pitch after a long eight years, with the duo last facing off in 2008. The Brazilian had disappointed in the first game, struggling to keep pace, but looked much better right from the kick-off, setting up teammate Rafael as he struck the post in the opening minute, as Goa started the brighter side.
The Barcelona legend had the crowd in rapt cheers with a brilliant goal in the 6th 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 from a narrow angle after a quick step over past the keeper.
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 remind everyone why he is joga bonito personified. First, he scored with an eye-of-the needle shot when surrounded by two defenders and a diving keeper. The Brazilian maestro then completed his hattrick 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.
Paul Scholes struggled to influence the game in the third quarter, but his counterpart for Goa continued toying with the Bengaluru defence, first with a series of keepy-ups and then amazing 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.
While speaking to the media before the match, Goa 5’s 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.”
If there was any doubt about his quality left, Ronaldinho obliterated it with a cheeky fourth in the 32nd minute, lofting the ball over a defender and into the net with Bengaluru keeper 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 marquee players showing their experience in keeping the ball and finding those.
The Chennai crowd cheered for the Brazilian legend right until the final whistle. The deafening Ronaldinho cheers were well received by the magician as he played along with the crowds and also shook a leg for them today.