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 March 28, 2002 | 1240 IST

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Lively return by Ronaldo as Brazil beat Yugoslavia

Ronaldo, playing his first game for Brazil after two-and-a-half years of injury and frustration, made a lively international comeback as the four-time world champions beat Yugoslavia 1-0 on Wednesday.

The Inter Milan striker, who looked confident and refused to be put off by rough Yugoslav marking and a wet and bumpy pitch, played the first 45 minutes and provided the high point in another flawed Brazilian performance.

Gremio striker Luizao, who replaced Ronaldo at half time, headed the only goal in the 72nd minute after an uninspired Brazil team struggled to break down a stubborn Yugoslav defence in their last warm-up game at home before the World Cup.

The goal came as the 57,000 crowd were getting restless and chanting the name of Romario -- the veteran striker who has been controversially snubbed by coach Luiz Felipe Scolari.

The fans booed the Brazilian players and cried "Ole" when Yugoslavia had possession.

The home team again lacked creativity as Scolari opted to field three central defenders, two full-backs and two tackling specialists in midfield.

Brazil's best spell came in the opening half hour, with Ronaldo eager to run at defenders and Ronaldinho Gaucho appearing to enjoy a new role behind the two attackers in the absence of the injured Rivaldo.

Yugoslavia were not taking any chances on Ronaldo's fitness and three or four defenders were quickly onto him whenever he got the ball.


But the Inter Milan player refused to be intimidated and still managed to escape the Yugoslavs's rough tackling on enough occasions to provide Brazil's best moments in the first half.

In the 14th minute, he created their first real opening when he slipped a first-time pass to Ronaldinho Gaucho who shot straight at goalkeeper Dragoslav Jevric.

Ronaldo set up another excellent chance when he threaded a pass through three defenders to Roberto Carlos, who unleashed a swerving shot which flew narrowly over the crossbar.

Ronaldo also tried his luck outside the penalty area. One shot was deflected off a defender and looped over a startled Jevric and another was comfortably held by the Yugoslav goalkeeper.

His best chance came when he broke down the left but his shot was again saved by Jevric.

But as Brazil ran out of ideas, the crowd grew restless.

The first cries for Romario were heard in the 37th minute and one minute later the dreaded chant of "burro, burro" (idiot, idiot) -- traditionally aimed at coaches by dissatisfied crowds in Brazil -- echoed around the stadium.

Brazil had a good spell early in the second half with Roberto Carlos having two rasping shots well saved by Jevric. The goalkeeper also made a good stop to turn away a shot on the turn by Ronaldinho Gaucho.

At the other end, a weak shot by Mateja Kezman on the edge of the area was saved by Marcos.

Brazil's goal finally arrived when Cafu crossed from the right at the second attempt and Luizao -- in whom Scolari has publicly deposited full confidence -- leapt to head the winner.

Luizao's inclusion was controversial as he had not played for seven weeks because of a legal wrangle with his former club Corinthians.

But his goal was not enough to lift the crowd and Brazil left the field to another resounding chorus of jeers.

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