Ronaldo returns... and he still knows where the net is

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Several Palmeiras fans attempted to disguise their disappointment with the heart-breaking injury-time equaliser in the derby against Corinthians with a light-hearted joke at the expense of their own executioner.

"The ref should have disallowed the goal... there were two balls on the pitch."

One of them, of course, being the amazing Ronaldo, who came off the bench to equalise in the 92nd minute, denying Palmeiras a fifth consecutive win against their arch rivals.

Ronnie wheels away after heading home late leveller...

Sure, Ronaldo is out of shape. His belly is still protuberant. In fact, he’s so fat the fence he climbed to celebrate his goal didn’t take the weight and fell apart.

And it doesn’t help that the Phenomenon still can’t stay out of trouble off the pitch.  

But, in just his second game after returning from a third potential career-ending injury following more than a year out of action, he showed the world once more that he still knows where the net is.

Before scoring, he had already hit a missile that cannoned back off the crossbar, and twice mesmerised Palmeiras’ defense with his trademark dribbling.

Palmeiras gaffer Vanderlei Luxemburgo, who coached the Phenomenon both with Brazil and at Real Madrid, spoke about his former charge after the game.

“An overweight Ronaldo is very dangerous," he said. "A fit Ronaldo is unstoppable. I’ll tell you something: if he wants, if he decides to be a football athlete once again, he’ll be at the 2010 World Cup, for sure. Ronaldo fields himself.”

...and brings half the stadium down celebrating

Alongside him in attack for the Samba Boys, I hope, will be Brazil’s new striking sensation, Palmeiras forward Keirrison – who couldn’t escape the ferocious Corinthians back-line, although he did set up Diego Souza’s opening goal.

During the week, Ronaldo had praised Keirrison as one of Brazil’s finest centre-forwards, with flattering compliments that made Keirrison run over to the veteran and thank him for his kindness at half-time.

And after the game, Keirrison, who had already revealed that Ronaldo was his inspiration as a kid, returned the compliment.

“We knew that if we let Ronaldo free, he would score. He’s got huge talent.”

Only time will tell whether Ronaldo can keep it up. But he showed us once again, it’s down to him and him alone.

"There's only one Ronaldo!"


FourFourTwo’s April issue, out now, is a South America special.

It features the 10 best new wonderkids from that continent, including exclusive interviews with Manchester United’s twins Fabio and Rafael da Silva plus Sao Paolo’s £100m-rated “new Kaka” Hernanes.

There are also interviews with Zico and Socrates; a look at the Boca Juniors academy responsible for Tevez, Burdisso, Gago, Banega et al; and the Lord of the Rings star so dedicated to Argentine outfit San Lorenzo that he bunked off a film set to see them play.

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