Father time may be undefeated, but not even he could likely keep a curling, free kick from Ronaldinho from bulging the back of the net.
With Brazil trailing Mexico, 1-0, deep into the second half of an international friendly, Ronaldinho showed his fans, foes and teammates that there are some skills that an elite athlete never loses. While his reactions may have slowed and his strides may have shortened over the years, the 31-year-old can still conjure singular moments of magic.
In the 80th minute, Ronaldinho stroked a curving, diving effort to the far corner of the net past the outstretched arms of the Mexican keeper from about 20 yards. Having surrendered an own goal and been reduced to 10 men early in the match, the result seemed sure to go for Mexico before Ronnie scored. Instead, the free kick goal sparked a furious late comeback for el Selecao. His sudden strike would be followed just minutes later by a Brazilian game-winner from Marcello.
Although the two-time FIFA World Player Of The Year seems a like a longshot for the 2014 World Cup squad (or even the 2012 Olympic team), he is in the midst of late-career renaissance. Having returned to his homeland to play his club ball with Flamengo, Ronaldinho has scored 18 goals and dished out 7 assists through his first 40 club matches of 2011.
Watching the reverence with which his teammates approach him after the goal makes it clear his status within the game. As he hugged Ronaldinho, the irrepressible teen sensation Neymar -- who really sold the referee on the foul that led to the free kick -- seems as reverent and submissive as he'll likely every be on the field.