Ronaldo started his first league game of the season, and
reminded the world of what it had been missing, when he scored twice to help
Milan crush Napoli 5-2. For the Rossoneri, it was a long awaited first domestic
win at home, and they accomplished it with some style.
Rossoneri coach Carlo Ancelotti had refused to confirm what part Ronaldo would
play in until just before the kick-off. In the end, he started him along side
compatriot Alexandre Pato, who was making his official first-team debut. It
proved a masterstroke.
Ronaldo and Pato quickly demonstrated a strong understanding, creating all of
the best openings in the first half. After quarter of an hour, the two combined
well to create a shooting chance for Ronaldo. Napoli keeper Iezzo failed to
clear properly and the ball bounced back and over the goal-line. 1-0 AC Milan.
The Phenomenon was back in business.
The home side kept their lead for just 13 minutes when Sosa equalised for Napoli.
However, with Ronaldo and Pato playing some inspired football, it was not long
before they were in front once more.
The two Brazilians combined well, for another Ronaldo effort on goal which
forced a great save from Iezzo. However, Clarence Seedorf was on hand to slot
home the rebound.
Napoli refused to let their heads drop and once more they drew level. Lavezzi
was brought down by Kakha Kaladze in the area, Domizzi converted the penalty to
ensure that the teams went into the break all square.
Ancelotti stuck with the Ronaldo-Pato partnership for the second half. The
Phenomenon justified his coach’s decision within the first minute, as he
converted a cross from Clarence Seedorf, with a diving header.
After restoring their lead, Milan continued to press as they went in search of a
fourth goal. Ronaldo, Pato and Seedorf were all on fire, and were even eclipsing
the presence of Kaka. However, the Brazilian playmaker was the next to add his
name to the scoresheet, with a terrific run and finish to make it 4-2.
That goal killed off Napoli’s hopes, and with 20 minutes to go and victory
assured, Ancelotti decided to protect Ronaldo, bringing on his compatriot
Emerson to shore up the midfield.
As he left the field, the Brazilian received a standing ovation from the San
Siro public, not to mention a kiss on the cheek from a delighted Ancelotti.
There was still time for Pato to cap his debut with a goal in the 74th minute.