SAUDI ARABIA 38-year-old superstar Cristiano Ronaldo scored twice to help Al Nassr in a lack of people still beat Al Hilal 2-1 in the Arab Club Champions Cup final.
Ronaldo scored twice from close-range shots, but they were all important to the team. Al Nassr, despite having to play without people from the 71st minute because center-back Abdulelah Al-Amri received a red card, still made history when winning this tournament for the first time. The Portuguese striker also ended the circuit for more than two years without a hand, with the first title in Saudi Arabia.
Three minutes after playing with only 10 men, Al Nassr equalized again after midfielder Sultan Al Ghannam rushed down the right wing and then swam in. Ronaldo rushed in faster to cushion the ball into an empty net to equalize 1-1. He did not celebrate the familiar swing dance, but raised his index finger and ran to the middle of the field as if he wanted to score more goals.
Ronaldo played the best match with 9 points out of 10, according to Sofascore . He put the ball into the net in the 83rd minute but the goal was disallowed for offside. At the beginning of extra time, the 38-year-old striker shot a touch on the goal and the ball was quite tight, but defender Ali Albulayhi flew a beautiful clearance to save the ball right on the goal line.
Ronaldo held his head in surprise after that situation, but he still enjoyed more joy a few minutes later. Sadio Mane rushed down to face the goalkeeper but did not pass to Ronaldo and missed. Midfielder Seko Fofana kicked the ball from afar to bounce the ball off the crossbar to the right position for Ronaldo to head into the empty net. An Al Hilal defender flew up and raised his leg but this time could not save.
After this goal, Ronaldo looked at the substitutes rushing into the field, then smiled as his teammates jumped up to hug him. Captain Al Nassr was a bit surprised because he thought he was offside, but a valid goal gave the home team the lead. Had defender Al Hilal not saved the ecstasy, Ronaldo could have scored a hat-trick.
Ronaldo did not play the whole game because of a knee injury he suffered in the 113th minute after trying to defend from a distance. After leaving the field, he sat with his sore leg stretched out without standing close to the team’s goal line like in the Euro 2016 final. However, after the final whistle, he was still able to enter the field to celebrate with his teammates.
Al Nassr even received three red cards in this match, of which two were for non-players, reserve defender Nawaf Boushal and coach Luis Castro, both for reacting errors. After receiving a red card, coach Castro even rushed into the field to attempt to clash with the referee, but was prevented by his assistants. After the game, Castro was channeled craft player, more than a month after working with the team. In the stands, dozens of flares flashed red in the area for Al Nassr fans.
Al Hilal players can only blame themselves as they squandered many good opportunities to equalize. Stars like Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, Ruben Neves, Kalidou Koulibaly or Malcom could not play the leading role to help the team escape defeat. They only scored one goal to open the scoring thanks to the help of Brazilian midfielder Michael.
The Arab Club Champions Cup is an annual tournament for Arab clubs in the Middle East and North Africa. Al Nassr attended this year’s tournament at the invitation of the Arab Football Association, without having to play in the qualifiers. The tournament took place from July 27 to August 12 in Saudi Arabia, with 16 teams divided into four groups, each group of four teams, choosing the top two teams to enter the knockout stage. Ronaldo finished the tournament with six goals in six games, taking the top scorer award.