Ronaldinho stars as benefit match raises £5.5m for tsunami relief

A collection of soccer talent not seen in at least 30 years braved near freezing temperatures and a polar wind last night, displaying their skills for an all-star exhibition match in hopes of raising US$3 million for victims of December's South Asian tsunamis.

A collection of soccer talent not seen in at least 30 years braved near freezing temperatures and a polar wind last night, displaying their skills for an all-star exhibition match in hopes of raising US$3 million for victims of December's South Asian tsunamis.

Samuel Eto'o and Henry Camara scored twice each and Barcelona's own Ronaldinho also had a goal to lead his team of mostly non-European stars over Andriy Shevchenko's largely continental crew 6-3.

In a match dubbed "The Game of Hope," players like Eto'o and Deco dazzled a crowd of 35,000 at Camp Nou stadium and a television audience in 150 countries with heel flicks, dummy dribbles and goals.

"It's the first time in my 30 years with FIFA that there's been such an assembly of players of this stature," FIFA president Sepp Blatter said. "This is football, and it's football for the future."

FIFA hopes to raise about US$10 million for the victims of the Dec. 26 waves caused by an earthquake off the coast of Indonesia that killed at least 157,000. It hoped to raise one-third from Tuesday's match.

The proceeds were to go to the Tsunami Solidarity Fund set up by FIFA and the Asian Football Confederation.

"It's a joy to participate in this with so many great players and for such a great cause," Ronaldino said.

African player of the year for the second year running, Barcelona forward Eto'o put the non-Europeans ahead in the 13th minute with low shot from the edge of the area that sailed past Real Madrid goalkeeper Iker Casillas.

Ronaldinho doubled the lead five minutes later, finishing off a playful manoeuvre by Deco and Japan's Hidetoshi Nakata of Fioretina.

Zinedine Zidane lobbed a stunning pass to spring Italy's Alessandro del Piero, who blasted a shot past AC Milan's Brazilian goalkeeper Dida in the 26th minute to keep the Europeans close.

But Eto'o shined brightest, stealing the ball from Kakhaber Kaladze moments before halftime, dribbling round a diving Casillas and depositing it into a open net.

Gianfranco Zola and Honduras' David Suazo drew Shevchenko's team even by the 53rd minute, but Senegal's Henri Camara, of Southampton, scored twice in three minutes to restore the non-Europeans to the lead.

The African thundered in a shot the 60th minute, seconds before Ronaldinho left the game to wild applause, then scored again in the 63rd.

South Korea's Cha Doo-ri powered home a sixth in the 79th minute.

Once he'd stepped off the field Ronaldinho said to television viewers, "The result tonight is not important, it's the spectacle in aid of a very great cause."

The match was preceded a by a minute of silence for the tsunami victims with all the starting players holding hands in the center circle.

Brazilian national team coach Carlos Alberto Parreira and FC Barcelona's Frank Rijkaard coached Ronaldinho's team while Italian squad chief Marcello Lippi and Arsenal's Arsene Wenger directed Shevchenko's crew.

Italy's Pierluigi Collina refereed the match.

Ronaldinho XI

Dida (Brazil, AC Milan), Cafu (Brazil, AC Milan), Ivan Cordoba (Colombia, Inter Milan), Rafael Marquez Alvarez (Mexico, Barcelona), Lucas Radebe (South Africa, Leeds) Rigobert Song (Cameroon Galatasari) Samuel Eto'o (Cameroon, Barcelona), Kaka (Brazil, AC Milan), Deco (Portugal, Barcelona) Hidtoshi Nakata (Japan, ACF Fiorentina), Ronaldinho (Brazil, FC Barcelona)Idriss Kameni (Cameroon, Espanyol), Radhi Jaidi (Tunisia, Bolton), Samuel Kuffour (Ghana, Bayern Munich) DaMarcus Beasley (United States, PSV Eindhoven), Henry Camara (Senegal, Southampton), Cha Doo-ri (South Korea, Eintracht Frankfurt), Mehdi Mahdavikia (Iran, Hamburg), Obafemi Martins (Nigeria, Inter Milan), Park Ji-sung (South Korea, PSV Eindhoven).Coaches: Carlos Alberto Parreira (Brazilian national team), Frank Rijkaard (Barcelona).

Shevchenko XI

Iker Casillas (Spain, Real Madrid), Andriy Shevchenko (Ukraine, AC Milan), Kakhaber Kaladze (Georgia, AC Milan), Paolo Montero (Uruguay, Juventus) Liliam Thuram (France, Juventus), David Beckham (England, Real madird) Sebastian Deisler (Germany, Bayern Munich), Alessandro Del Piero (Italy, Juventus), Steven Gerrard (England, Liverpool), Raul Gonzalez (Spain, Real Madrid), Zinedine Zidane (France, Real Madrid).Francesc Toldo (Italy, Inter Milan), Vincent Kompany (Belgium, Anderlecht), Paolo Maldini (Italy, AC Milan), Giovanni van Bronchorst (Netherlands, FC Barcelona), Deco (Portugal, Barcelona), Ludovic Giuly (France, FC Barcelona) Thierry Henry (France, Arsenal), Jari Litmanen (Finland, Hans Rostock) Rui Costa (Portugal, AC Milan), Johann Vogel (Switzerland, PSV Eindhoven), Hakan Sukur (Turkey, Galatasaray), Gianfranco Zola (Italy, Cagliari FC), David Suazo (Honduras, Cagliari).Coaches: Marcello Lippi (Italian national team), Arsene Wenger (Arsenal).


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