Cristiano Ronaldo and Al-Nassr continue to be on fire — as the team won 5-1 at Al-Hazem on Saturday to move within touching distance of the top spot of the Roshn Saudi League.
With Al-Ahli losing 5-1 at Al-Fateh and Al-Ittihad going down 4-3 on Friday to new leaders Al-Hilal, Al-Nassr, who lost the first two games of the season, are just four points off pole position three matches later. Scoring 14 goals in the past three games suggests that, in an attacking sense at least, coach Luis Castro is finding his feet in Saudi Arabia.
As the 18 top-tier teams heading into the international break, the Yellows could be the team that are slightly regretful that the league will pause for a couple of weeks as they are simply irresistible at the moment.
The same can be said for Ronaldo, who now has six goals in three. Five of those came in the previous two games as Al-Nassr defeated Al-Fateh 5-0 and then won 4-0 at home to Al-Shabab on Tuesday. This time, the 38-year-old was more of a provider.
There he was just after the half-hour drawing three defenders on the edge of the area and then slipping the ball through to Abdulrahman Ghareeb, who then also picked his time and slipped the ball into the net past goalkeeper Aymen Dahmen from close range. It was another slick move from the visitors.
The second goal came on the stroke of half-time. The hosts failed to clear a Marcelo Brozovic corner and there was Abdullah Al-Khaibari at the far post to shoot home.
It looked as if it was game over but just three minutes after the break the newly promoted team pulled one back and were right back in it. It was a spectacular strike that came out of nowhere. Mohamed Badamosi picked up the ball in a central position 35 meters away from goal, advanced about ten and then let fly with an unstoppable shot and one that a certain five-time Ballon D’or winner on the opposite team would have been proud of.
Maybe it annoyed the nine-time champions, as three minutes before the hour Ronaldo made his second assist and the third goal. The impressive Brozovic found the former Real Madrid man on the left side of the area and his side-footed pass gave his Portuguese compatriot Otavio the simplest of finishes and his first goal in Saudi Arabia.
Al-Nassr were not stopping there and midway through the second half Ronaldo fired home from just inside the area for his sixth of the season. He is now the leading goalscorer this season, one ahead of Sadio Mane who made it five personally and five for his new team.
It was an emphatic win and the day became even better as Al-Ahli, who had won their first four games of the campaign after promotion and would have gone top with a win, surprisingly lost 5-1 at Al-Fateh. It started very well as an own goal from Abbas Al-Hassan gave the visitors the lead, but despite the presence of stellar talent such as Roberto Firmino, Riyad Mahrez, Allan Saint-Maximin and Edouard Mendy, that was as good as it got for the Jeddah giants.
Firas Al-Buraikan levelled the scores from the spot after 21 minutes and on the hour, Lucas Zelarayan put Al-Fateh ahead. Three late strikes from Morocco’s Mourad Batna gave the hosts a convincing win.
Elsewhere, Ettifaq returned to winning ways with a 3-1 win over Damac, thanks to a brace from Moussa Dembele and good work from Jordan Henderson. The victory takes the men from Dammam into fifth and just three points off the top.
Al-Nassr are just a point behind and are looking very ominous indeed as the league takes a break for 12 days.