Ronaldo angered by blow to Al-Nassr title hopes
AL-MAJMAAH: Al-Nassr suffered a huge blow to their hopes of winning the Saudi Professional League after a goalless draw with lowly Al-Fayha, and Cristiano Ronaldo left the pitch in anger after a frustrating performance on Sunday.
Leaders Al-Ittihad did not waste the opportunity to widen the gap with Al-Nassr to three points with the last seven games remaining, with a victory 2-1 against Al-Wehda. Al-Ittihad had an advantage also in a head-to-head result with Al-Nassr.
Ronaldo, 38, who joined Al-Nassr in January in a contract estimated by media to be worth more than 200 million euros ($218 million), hit a ball into the hands of goalkeeper Vladimir Stojkovic, who kissed the ball in the 68th minute.
Stojkovic seemed to cast a spell on the ball as the Portugal captain fired twice over the bar in the space of six minutes, and Brazilian Anderson Talisca, the league’s top scorer, was ineffective also.
Ronaldo appeared furious while leaving the pitch after his goal tally stopped at 11 goals in 10 league games, and he took off the captain armband and left it in his hand.
Al-Nassr coach Rudi Garcia was not satisfied with the performance, nor the result.
“The result is definitely bad and we are not happy,” the French coach told the Saudi Sports Company (SSC) through a translator.
“I don’t feel satisfied with the players’ performance. I asked them to play at the same level as the last game [in the 5-0 victory against Al-Adalah], but this didn’t happen”.
Al-Nassr, who won the title for the last time in 2019, will play a crucial game next week against Al-Hilal, the defending champion and fourth in the standings, which may determine the race for the title.
“There are seven games left, we will try to recover, and we realise that its not easy after we lost two points, but everything is possible.”
Al-Fayha posted on Twitter an edited image of their captain Sami Al-Khaibari sitting in front of Ronaldo at a chess table, reflecting a famous advertisement featuring rivals Lionel Messi and Cristiano.
The image captioned “checkmate”, drew more than 1.9 million views, compared to fewer than 100,000 views for other page posts.
Published in Dawn, April 11th, 2023