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Fitting Sendoff for Romario

Times Staff Writer

A sense of nostalgia, and Technicolor, enveloped the Coliseum on Wednesday night.

The 1994 World Cup teams from Brazil and Mexico met on the pitch in an exhibition that not only celebrated the 10-year anniversary of the Brazilians’ triumph at the Rose Bowl, but also marked the international retirements of Brazil’s all-time leading scorer, Romario, and Mexico’s flamboyant goalkeeper, Jorge Campos, who is known for his brightly-colored outfits almost as much as for his flashy and daring play between the pipes.

Of course, each played a major part in Brazil’s 2-1 victory before a pro-Mexico crowd estimated at 55,000.

Romario, 38, scored both goals for Brazil after Campos, the former Galaxy goalkeeper who was sporting a fluorescent pink and yellow get-up in goal, shut out the Brazilians in the first half.

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Campos moved to forward for the second half.

Mexico pushed the tempo early and scored on a 14th-minute goal by Luis Roberto Alves.

Taking a breakaway pass from Ramon Ramirez, who will play for Chivas USA next season in Major League Soccer, on the left flank, Alves put just enough spin on the ball with his left-footed shot to guide it past Brazil’s onrushing goalkeeper, Taffarel, and into the net.

Romario, who scored five goals for Brazil’s 1994 World Cup team, tied the score in the 62nd minute.

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From the left side of the box, Aldair found a streaking Romario in the middle with a perfectly-timed pass, Romario easily beating Mexico defender Juan Chavez and backup goalkeeper Felix Fernandez before his teammates lifted him upon their shoulders in celebration.

Romario’s game-winner came in the 86th minute. Stationary in the left side of the box, he head-faked a pair of Mexico defenders and blasted his shot past Fernandez.

After the score, a tearful Romario took a lap around the Coliseum while fireworks erupted. Campos, 37, was afforded the same treatment minutes later.

It was truly an old-timer’s game with flair as only three players, from both teams combined, are still active with their respective national teams.

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Former Galaxy strikers Carlos Hermosillo and Luis Hernandez played as substitutes for Mexico as did current Chivas of Guadalajara Coach Benjamin Galindo, who flew into Los Angeles just before the game and was scheduled to catch a red-eye flight back to Mexico in time for practice today.


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