Friday, January 20, 2023

Cristiano Ronaldo was hit but still scored twice against Riyadh for PSG. Lionel Messi also scored

PSG vs Riyadh XI: Cristiano Ronaldo punched but scores twice in Saudi reunion with Lionel Messi


RIYADH: In a lively reunion with Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo scored twice against Paris Saint-Germain on Thursday after recovering from a punch to the face. This demonstrated the financial power of the resource-rich Gulf.

Ronaldo, 37, made his first appearance since moving to Saudi Arabia in a deal that is said to be worth more than 400 million euros. He was decked by PSG's 'keeper Keylor Navas's flailing fist, but he scored a penalty and added another in the 5-4 exhibition loss.

Neymar missed a penalty and Messi and Kylian Mbappe both scored for PSG, which is owned by Qatar, before Neymar and Ronaldo withdrew on the hour, leaving the four highest-paid players in the world watching from the bench in Riyadh. Ronaldo was playing for a composite Saudi team.

The exhibition match in Saudi Arabia's capital attracted footballers worth hundreds of millions of euros, just weeks after neighboring Qatar lavishly sponsored Argentina's victory in the first World Cup held on Arab soil.

A Saudi real estate tycoon was among the throng at the 69,000-seat King Fahd Stadium. At auction, he paid $2.6 million for a ticket that gave him access to the players' dressing rooms.

Messi scored after just three minutes when he was fed by the explosive Mbappe after Ronaldo led out the Riyadh Season Team, which was made up of players from his new club Al Nassr and Saudi rivals Al Hilal.

In Saudi football, Ronaldo made his first touch with a throw-in, but he missed a shot and had a penalty appeal denied before Navas caught him flush on the cheekbone as they tried to get a high ball.

Ronaldo scored in the 34th minute, grimacing and still rubbing the red mark on his face, beating Navas.

PSG's Juan Bernat received a straight red card five minutes later for a foul on Salem Al-Dawsari, Saudi Arabia's match-winning goal in their famous World Cup group stage victory over Argentina.

Ronaldo, Messi's sparring partner during their time playing for Barcelona and Real Madrid, received a reproachful look from Messi, perhaps annoyed by the intensity of the mid-season friendly.

Marquinhos' delicate finish gave PSG a quick lead back, and Neymar missed a penalty kick after shooting timidly after a familiar stuttering start.

After a few minutes, Ronaldo scored his second goal in injury time of the first half, heading against the post and then burying the rebound to make the score 2-2 at halftime.

Before Hyun-soo Jang scored the third equalizer for the hosts, Mbappe put PSG back in front shortly after the break by turning his opponent inside-out and setting up an easy finish for Sergio Ramos.

However, Mbappe converted a penalty and Hugo Ekitike scored to make it 5-3, and Brazilian striker Talisca scored the final goal for the Riyadh team.

Ronaldo will make his Saudi Pro League debut for Al Nassr on Sunday after signing for more than 200 million euros, according to a club source. It was his first game in the oil-rich kingdom of Saudi.

A source told AFP that the veteran Portuguese star will receive an additional 200 million euros to serve as an ambassador for Saudi Arabia's anticipated joint bid to host the World Cup in 2030 with Egypt and Greece.

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