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Dec 15, 2010

Zidane shines in charity spectacle

Zinedine Zidane and Ronaldo joined a star-studded squad for a United Nations charity match in Greece on Tuesday aimed at fighting world poverty.

The World Cup-winning legends and UNDP ambassadors brought together an All Stars team who drew 2-2 against Greek giants Olympiakos in front of 30,000 fans in Athens, although players changed sides freely in a night of entertainment that raised funds to support earthquake-hit Haiti and flood-devatsted Pakistan.

Ronaldo did not feature in the match due to injury, but Zidane joined a host of past and present stars for the eighth annual Match Against Poverty.

Portugal's Ricardo Sá Pinto scored twice for Zidane's men, who were coached by Radomir Antic and Hugo Sanchez. The hosts, who started with a team of fringe players and club legends before bringing on much of their current XI midway through the first half, came back in the second half through Kostas Mitroglou's double.

'Zizou' had a chance to win it with a free header from six yards but his aging legs didn't give him the leap required and he could only send his effort flying over the bar.

Zidane, who was substituted to a standing ovation in the 70th minute, said: "I hope this eighth Annual Match Against Poverty will help communicate a sense of urgency that we all need to join the team to end poverty now. I want to thank everyone who came to watch the match tonight - I know that it is not easy since Greece is going through an economic crisis."

The seventh edition of the Match Against Poverty, held earlier this year in Lisbon, raised half a millions euros for UN development projects. Olympiakos will donate their share of the proceeds from Tuesday's match to local charities.

The Friends of Ronaldo and Zidane were: Antonis Nikopolidis (Greece), Ronald de Boer (Netherlands), Darko Kovacevic (Serbia), Mahamadou Diarra (Mali), Nuno Gomes (Portugal), Sabri Lamouchi (France), Ricardo Sá Pinto (Portugal), Cornel Rapa (Romania), Raúl Albiol (Spain), Yaya Touré (Ivory Coast), Giovanni van Bronckhorst (Netherlands), Pierre van Hooijdonk (Netherlands), William (Brazil), Anthar Yahia (Algeria), Silviu Ilie (Romania), Marius Gaman (Romania).

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