Cristiano Ronaldo reignites Al Nassr's title bid amid rumours of … – The National

Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates after scoring Al Nassr’s first goal during the Saudi Pro League match against Al Raed at Mrsool Park in Riyadh. AFP
Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates after scoring Al Nassr’s first goal during the Saudi Pro League match against Al Raed at Mrsool Park in Riyadh. AFP
Cristiano Ronaldo reignited Al Nassr’s Saudi Pro League title bid with a match-winning display against Al Raed in Riyadh on Friday night.
The Portuguese star, without a goal in his past three matches, took only four minutes to open the scoring at Mrsool Park as Nassr sealed a first victory in four fixtures.
Ronaldo, the Nassr captain, then had a significant hand in his side’s second, struck 10 minutes into the second half by Abdulrahman Ghareeb. Substitutes Mohammed Maran and Abdulmajeed Al Sulaiheem completed the scoring in the final minutes.
The 4-0 win keeps alive the nine-time Saudi champions’ hopes of clinching a first top-flight crown since 2019. Nassr sit second in the table, three points behind Al Ittihad with five matches remaining. Ittihad, however, have a game in hand.
Reports in Spain this week claimed Ronaldo, 38, was unhappy with his first four months in Saudi Arabia and seeking a return to Europe. He signed a two-and-a-half-year deal with Nassr in late December, said to be worth more than $200 million per year.
The former Manchester United, Juventus and Real Madrid forward was therefore always going to command the majority of attention on Friday.
Looking to bounce back from Monday’s shock King’s Cup semi-final exit to Al Wehda, Nassr raced out of the blocks against Raed.
Not long into the match, the ball was cleared only partially to Nassr full-back Sultan Al Ghannam, who crossed invitingly for Ronaldo to head home – his 11th goal in 12 league matches.
In first-half injury-time, Ronaldo rounded goalkeeper Silviu Lung but ran the ball too wide before pulling back for Ahmed Yahya to blaze over. Roanldo, though, had been flagged offside.
At the beginning of the second half, Nassr had to survive a serious scare, when Raed forward Karim El Berkaoui somehow headed over when unmarked.
Minutes later, the hosts doubled their advantage. This time, Ronaldo rose high to knock down Luis Gustavo’s deep cross, leaving Yahya to roll to Ghareeb, who supplied a cool finish.
Ronaldo soon claimed vociferously for a penalty when he appeared to have been tripped inside the Raed area. The referee waved away his protests, much to Ronaldo’s obvious irritation. The Mrsool Park crowd promptly chanted his name in unison.
Ronaldo should really have then had a second goal 15 minutes from time, but his close-range effort was blocked for a corner.
Nassr did swell the scoreline in the closing stages, first after fine work from Jaloliddin Masharipov teed up Maran to slot home. It was left to Al Sulaiheem to score the goal of the game, the midfielder exchanging passes with Masharipov before curling a superb effort into the top corner from the edge of the Raed area.
Crucially, the victory will give Nassr a huge boost going into the final month of the campaign, especially following back-to-back defeats in key matches: the Riyadh derby against Al Hilal and the cup loss to Wehda.
Still with interim manager Dinko Jelicic in charge – Frenchman Rudi Garcia parted company with the club earlier this month – Nassr are next in action on May 8, at home in the league to second-from-bottom Al Khaleej.
Before that, Ittihad travel to sixth-placed Al Taawoun on Wednesday, with Ronaldo and teammates surely hoping the Jeddah side, riding a six-match win streak in the league, drop points.







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