Paulo Henrique Ganso is back! After more than 200 days out with a serious knee injury, the 21 year old playmaker made his comeback yesterday in the SÃ£o Paulo State Championship coming on as a halftime substitute for the hapless Diogo against Botafogo-SP. With the game tied at 0-0, he made an immediate impact sending ZÃ© Eduardo through on goal. ZÃ© Eduardo fed Elano who slotted home his ninth goal of the competition. After being booed off at half time, Santos were now 1-0 up with less than a minute gone in the second half. All thanks to Ganso!
Eight minutes later Ganso was on the score sheet himself. ZÃ© Eduardo broke away on the right hand side once again and crossed for Ganso, who muscled in front of his marker to finish. Santos continued to create chances throughout the rest of the game with Ganso in the thick of the action but they couldnâ€™t add a third goal and it was Botafogo who pulled one back late in the second half from a set piece (exposing Santos’ defensive frailties once again). Too little too late for them and Santos won 2-1.
Santos interim coach Marcelo Martelotte was only planning to give Ganso a 10 or 15 minute run-out but the teamâ€™s poor first half showing forced his hand sooner. And what an impact Ganso made. This kid is a star. His return is a huge boost for everybody at the club, none more so than for partner in crime Neymar, who said after the game: â€œHeâ€™s practically a brother to me, Iâ€™m really moved. We know heâ€™s a star but it was a magnificent comeback. Iâ€™ve watched his recovery for seven monthsâ€¦ it almost makes me want to cryâ€. So there you go. Tears of happiness at Gansoâ€™s comeback!
Next up for Ganso and Santos is Colo Colo in the Copa Libertadores in Santiago on Wednesday night. After drawing their first two games in the competition this match is really important for Santos. My guess is that we see Ganso start.