Emotional Adriano plays first match for nearly two years
Milan: Former Brazil and Inter Milan forward Adriano played his first match for nearly two years when he made a late cameo appearance in Atletico Paranaense`s 1-0 win over The Strongest in the Libertadores Cup.
Adriano barely had time to get a touch of the ball after coming on as an 85th minute substitute but was still emotional after making his latest comeback at the age of 31.
"I`ve been battling every day to reach my target," he told reporters after Thursday`s match against the Bolivian side.
"I`ve gone through so many things in my life and taking part in an important competition such as the Libertadores makes me happy and emotional."
Once known as the Emperor, Adriano`s career reached its peak when he was top-scorer for Brazil at the 2004 Copa America in Peru and the Confederations Cup in Germany the following year.
Beset by drinking and weight problems, his career has been steadily going downhill since then and he had not played a game since leaving Corinthians in March 2012. He joined Flamengo later the same year but did not play a match.
A first-half goal by Paulinho Dias gave Paranaense the victory in their opening Group One match.
In other matches, Ecuadorean champions Emelec hit back to beat Bolivar 2-1 in Guayaquil after falling behind to an 11th minute goal from Spanish forward Juan Miguel Callejon, twin brother of Napoli striker Jose.
The pair played together for Real Madrid`s `B` team in 2007-08 but Juan Miguel`s career since then as turned out to be considerably less glamorous than his brother`s.
After playing for lower league Spanish sides Albacete, Cordoba and Hercules, he joined Greek side Levadiakos before moving to La Paz-based Bolivar last year.
Although Callejon gave Bolivar an early lead, they barely had time to celebrate before Angel Mena fired an equaliser with a left-foot shot. Fernando Gimenez headed Emelec`s winner in the 74th minute of the Group 7 match.
Three other matches ended in single-goal wins, while Lanus and O`Higgins served up a goalless stalemate in Buenos Aires in Group 3.
Gustavo Lorenzetti`s late goal gave Universidad de Chile a 1-0 win over Uruguay`s Defensor Sporting in Group 5.
Paraguay midfielder Cristian Riveros scored the only goal as Gremio won away at Nacional in Group 6, while Colombia`s Atletico Nacional scraped past Argentina`s Newell`s Old Boys in the same group thanks to Edwin Cardona`s late strike.