FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Cruzeiro forward Wellington Paulista stole the headlines on Sunday night at Gillette Stadium, scoring three times to lead the visiting Brazilians to a 3-0 win over the New England Revolution in an international friendly.
Paulista scored what proved to be the game-winner in the 24th minute, then added additional strikes after the halftime break in the 49th and 83rd minutes to round out the scoring. Jonathan, Roger and Thiago Ribeiro each provided an assist, with Ribeiro looking particularly dangerous throughout the match.
Despite the identical score line, the Revolution’s performance against Cruzeiro was much improved from the one put forth last weekend in a 3-0 loss to Seattle, but the evening was marred by an injury to Steve Ralston just seconds after making his triumphant return to Gillette Stadium. Ralston – who re-signed with the Revs earlier this week after spending eight seasons (2002-09) in New England – entered the match in the 72nd minute to a standing ovation, but he was replaced just two minutes later after falling in the box and suffering a dislocated left elbow.
Ralston’s injury overshadowed another return for the Revolution, as goalkeeper Matt Reis made his first appearance of 2010 after recovering from offseason shoulder and knee surgeries. Reis made two saves and allowed one goal before being replaced by Bobby Shuttleworth at halftime.
Both team’s goalkeepers were called into action in the opening 15 minutes and each came up big to keep the game scoreless. Cruzeiro netminder Rafael sprawled to his left to deny Khano Smith’s seventh-minute drive, while Reis made his first save of the season in the 14th minute, getting down well to his left to snatch Gil’s low blast.
Reis could do nothing to stop Paulista from giving the visitors a 1-0 lead in the 24th minute, however, as the Cruzeiro forward opened the scoring with a piece of individual skill inside the box. After Jonathan’s long pass slipped through a pair of Revolution defenders and drew Reis off his line, Paulista used his first touch to push the ball around the New England keeper before finishing from an acute angle.
Cruzeiro so nearly doubled its advantage before the half, but Ribeiro’s 30-yard blast hit the underside of the crossbar and bounced straight down before an offside call on the follow-up ended the threat.
It didn’t take long for the visitors to find their second goal following the halftime break, however, as Paulista struck for his second in the 49th minute to make it 2-0. A corner kick swung into the near post caused problems for the Revs, and when the ball popped free a few yards from goal, Paulista was on hand to pound the ball into the net past Shuttleworth.
The Revs almost pulled a goal back in the 56th minute when Kenny Mansally – who replaced Smith in the 30th minute after Smith suffered a sprained right ankle – latched onto Shalrie Joseph’s cutting pass from the right wing and chipped a delicate shot over the charging goalkeeper. Mansally wheeled away to celebrate as the ball appeared to be crossing the line, but Gil tracked back and cleared the ball to safety at the decisive moment to keep New England off the board.
Defender Emmanuel Osei finally did put the ball across the line for the Revolution in the 79th minute, but the goal was waved off for offside. Chris Tierney’s curling corner kick was headed toward goal by Joseph, and Mansally cut across the keeper to get a touch but was deemed to be in an offside position. Osei subsequently blasted the rebound into the net, but the whistle had already blown.
Shortly after the Revs almost cut the lead in half, Cruzeiro extended its lead to 3-0 as Paulista completed his hat trick in the 83rd minute. A clever piece of work from Ribeiro on the right wing opened up space for the cross, and his service found Paulista unmarked six yards from goal for a powerful header to conclude the scoring.
For the first time since the 2010 Major League Soccer season kicked off in late March, the Revs will be off next weekend as they take part in the league-wide break for the group stage of the 2010 FIFA World Cup. They’ll return to league action on Sunday, June 27, when they welcome the archrival Chicago Fire to Gillette Stadium for a 7 p.m. kickoff.
Cruzeiro at New England Revolution
June 13, 2010 – Gillette Stadium (Foxborough, Mass.)
CRU – Welington Paulista (Jonathan) 24
CRU – Welington Paulista (Roger) 49
CRU – Welington Paulista (Thiago Ribeiro) 83
New England Revolution: Matt Reis (Bobby Shuttleworth 46), Seth Sinovic, Cory Gibbs, Emmanuel Osei, Kevin Alston, Khano Smith (Kenny Mansally 30), Shalrie Joseph ©, Pat Phelan, Zak Boggs (Nico Colaluca 80), Marko Perovi? (Steve Ralston 72, Chris Tierney 74), Zack Schilawski (Kheli Dube 46)
Substitutes Not Used: Tim Murray, Michael Videira, Joseph Niouky
STATS: Shots: 15; Shots on Goal: 8; Saves: 2; Corner Kicks: 6; Offside: 2; Fouls Committed: 13
Cruzeiro: Rafael (Flavio 88),, Capaca, Diego Renan (Hyago 46), Gil, Jonathan (Marquinho Paiana 32), Henrique (Fabinho 89), Robert (Elicarlos 58), Fabricio (Pedro Ken 70), Roger (Eber 80), Thiago Ribeiro (Eliandro 87), Welington Paulista (Keiza 86)
Substitutes Not Used: None
STATS: Shots: 14; Shots on Goal: 5; Saves: 7; Corner Kicks: 5; Offside: 3; Fouls Committed: 7
NE – Emmanuel Osei (caution) 13
CRU – Henrique (caution) 37
NE – Kenny Mansally (caution) 56
NE – Pat Phelan (caution) 64
Referee: Chris Penso
Referee’s Assistants: Claudio Badea (SAR), Jan Halaska (JAR)
Fourth Official: Guido Gonzalez
Weather: Cloudy, 63 degrees