AL-HASA – Cristiano Ronaldo got off the mark for his new Saudi Arabian paymasters Al-Nassr on Friday with a stoppage-time penalty that rescued a 2-2 away draw against Al Fateh.
The Portuguese star, who turns 38 on Sunday, buried the spot kick in the 93rd minute for a point that left the Riyadh club joint top of the Saudi Pro League with a game in hand over Al-Shabab.
“Happy to have scored my first goal in the Saudi league and great effort by whole team to achieve an important draw in a very difficult match!” Ronaldo said on Twitter after the game.
The striker broke his duck in his third appearance, after he fired blanks in the Jan 22 league win over Ettifaq and in last week’s Super Cup loss to Al-Ittihad.
“In football, there are parameters that you can control and others that you cannot. We conceded two goals and it was our fault,” Al Nassr coach Rudi Garcia said of the draw.
“But we are also unlucky with two shots on the posts. Cristiano scored his first goal and we got back on the score twice. We remain motivated like ever.”
Days before his Al-Nassr debut, Ronaldo scored twice for a Saudi composite team in an entertaining 5-4 loss to a Paris Saint-Germain side featuring his great rival Lionel Messi.
The five-time Ballon d’Or winner, who holds the all-time records for Champions League and international goals, signed a 2½-year deal with Al-Nassr in December, reported to be worth over €200 million (S$285.7 million), and was appointed captain after his arrival.
Some sources also said that he will receive an additional €200 million for promoting Saudi Arabia’s expected joint bid to host the 2030 World Cup, according to AFP.
Ronaldo has become a figurehead for the conservative kingdom’s push to improve its reputation through sports – a process that has drawn accusations of “sportswashing”, or trying to sanitise its poor human rights record. AFP, REUTERS
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