Jan 19, 2023 at 8:19 PMUpdate: an hour ago
Cristiano Ronaldo made his debut for Al Nassr on Thursday. The Portuguese star played a friendly match with his teammates against Lionel Messi’s Paris Saint-Germain. It became a showdown to lick your fingers: 4-5.
Ronaldo’s arrival in Saudi Arabia is steeped in commercial interests and promotional purposes. His debut fitted flawlessly into that picture. The star ensemble of Paris Saint-Germain was called up as an opponent. Worldwide attention assured.
The Parisian team of Christophe Galtier was willing to participate in the PR stunt and entered the King Fahd stadium in the capital Riyadh at full strength. In addition to Messi, world stars Kylian Mbappé and Neymar were also at the kick-off.
Ronaldo played in a composite squad of players from Al Nassr and Al Hilal, another top club in Saudi Arabia. Yet this formation certainly did not appear as loose sand. PSG were seriously offered a match and the spectators got to see a brilliant match.
Lionel Messi scored in the third minute. Photo: AFP
Messi scores after just a few minutes
Already in the third minute none other than Messi broke the spell. The Argentinian world champion was sent into the depths by a nonchalant lob from Neymar and worked the ball over the back line: 0-1.
Ronaldo couldn’t resist that. Half an hour later, the 37-year-old Portuguese was clumsily punched in the head by goalkeeper Keylor Navas. The referee pointed to the spot and Ronaldo himself got behind the ball to score the equalizer.
It turned out to be the prelude to a spectacular final phase of the first half. A few minutes later, PSG had to continue with ten men, because Juan Bernat torpedoed Salem Al Dawsari’s legs. The Spaniard received a direct red card.
With one man less, PSG still managed to take the lead: Marquinhos tapped in a spinning cross from Mbappé from close by. The Parisians thought they could even make it 1-3 two minutes later, but Neymar missed from the penalty spot.
Ronaldo scored two goals, including one from the rebound. Photo: Getty Images
Ronaldo demands attention again
Ronaldo watched from a distance and demanded attention again deep in stoppage time of the first half. The Portuguese saw a nice header hit the post and was able to work the rebound against the ropes: 2-2.
After the break, the goal fest continued. Sergio Ramos worked in a cross from Mbappé (2-3) and Hyun-Soo Jang leveled the Saudis (3-3). Mbappé then put his own name on the scoresheet after two assists by using a penalty.
Ronaldo was then taken to the side, while Galtier also exchanged all his stars. In the final phase, Hugo Ekitiké increased the lead for PSG and Talisca put the 4-5 final score on the board on behalf of the home team.
Ronaldo will return to action in three days. Al Nassr will play a league match against Al Ettifaq on Sunday. So far, ‘CR7’ was not eligible to play due to a maximum number of foreigners allowed in the selection. That problem has now been resolved.
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Lionel MessiCristiano RonaldoVoetbal
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