Football: Ronaldo a picture of excellence at the exhibition

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The Independent Online
Europe 2

Rest of the World 5

As Ronaldo's protracted transfer between Barcelona and Internazionale dragged on last season and this summer it appeared that he was one Brazilian who did not even go through the pretence of playing for fun. His football may have carried a smile but its enjoyment had a multi-million dollar price-tag.

That suspicion dissolved last night as the young striker gave a mouthwatering display of what his country's opponents can expect next summer. Exhibition matches can only hint at how a player will perform in the white heat of competition but Ronaldo has already proved himself in that arena. Last night, when he could have strolled through this imaginative appetiser for the World Cup draw, he stretched his limbs and his mind to put on a show.

It was the individual skill of Ronaldo, the most expensive footballer in the world and the representative of next summer's favourites, which enabled an apparently inferior Rest of the World side to defeat Europe handsomely in the Stade Veldrome.

The Brazilian scored two goals and made three during a virtuoso first- half display. Gabriel Batistuta, with two goals, and Antony De Avila, with one, were the main beneficiaries. Europe, who had scored first through Marius Lacatus, scored on the hour through the local hero Zinedine Zidane, but were not able to score again. Zidane, who grew up in Marseilles, looked the only player interested in the second half but he did not move quickly enough when the final whistle went and was mobbed by a significant number of spectators who invaded the pitch. Zidane, who had to be rescued by stewards, appeared quite shaken by the experience.

This scoreline is unlikely to be repeated in the World Cup, at least not with Germany's Andreas Kopke on the receiving end, but the beautiful setting, nestling among the snow-dusted limestone hills of southern Provence, will. A full house - and Fifa, football's world governing body - were equally relieved that the wind had fallen and rain stayed away. It was cold but clear and Marseilles had come to party, a version of "Roll out the Barrel" sharing top billing with the Mexican wave.

Europe, with Paul Ince sitting just in front of the central defenders, began well with Romania's Lacatus taking advantage of an error by the Moroccan Nourieddine Naybet to put them ahead after 47 seconds.

Ronaldo then took over. He had a couple of sighters then put De Avila through for a 17th-minute leveller. Six minutes later he ran at and past Fernando Hierro to score. A one-two with Batistuta followed after 31 minutes, which ended with the Argentinian scoring. He did so again from Ronaldo's clever pass two minutes later. "Bat-i-Gol" chanted the fans. The half finished with Ronaldo's second: he was first to Adel Sellimi's long ball and, as Kopke flew out to meet it, nodded the ball past him before tapping in. This is Kopke's home ground; the match may have been a friendly but it was still a humiliation, especially as Frode Grodas took over at half- time.

Franz Beckenbauer had clearly had a few words about defensive principles in the break and the second period was less exciting. Rangers' Gordon Durie started and, on the hour, was joined by Derby's Deon Burton who missed a clear chance almost immediately. At least he will be able to say he was here and played.

EUROPE (5-3-2) Kopke (Germany & Marseilles); Pfeifenberger (Austria & Werder Bremen), Hierro (Spain & Real Madrid), Ince (England & Liverpool), Costacurta (Italy & Milan), Lemoine (Belguim & Espanyol); Lacatus (Romania & Steaua Bucharest), Zidane (France & Juventus), Balakov (Bulgaria & VfB Stuttgart); Boksic (Croatia & Lazio), Kluivert (Netherlands & Milan). Substitutes: Grodas (Norway & Chelsea) for Kopke, h-t; Colding (Denmark & Brondby) for Hierro, h-t; Jokanovic (Yugoslavia & Tenerife) for Lemoine, h-t; Durie (Scotland & Rangers) for Kluivert, h-t. Substitute not used: Pashazadeh (Iran & Tehran).

REST OF THE WORLD (4-3-1-2): Songo'o (Cameroon & Deportivo La Coruna); Myung-Bo Hong (South Korea & Bellmare Hiratsuka), Margas (Chile & Universidad Catolica), Naybet (Morocco & Deportivo La Coruna), Nyathi (South Africa & St Gallen); Nakata (Japan & Bellmare Hiratsuka), Bernal (Monterrey & Mexico), Sellimi (Tunisia & Nantes); De Avila (Colombia & New York-New Jersey MetroStars); Batistuta (Argentina & Fiorentina), Ronaldo (Brazil & Internazionale). Substitutes: Diaz (Paraguay & Monterrey) for Song'o, h-t; Burton (Jamaica & Derby) for Batistuta, 61; Wynalda (United States & San Jose Clash) for De Avila, h-t; Sulimani (Saudi Arabia) for Ronaldo, 61. Substitute not used: Kanu (Nigeria & Internazionale).

Referee: G Veissiere (France).

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