RIYADH: Cristiano Ronaldo scored a magnificent seventh goal of the season to head the goalscoring charts as Al-Nassr won 3-1 at Al-Raed on Saturday to make it four successive league victories.
After a tough opening period, Sadio Mane broke the deadlock just before the break with a fine strike. With Al-Raed quickly reduced to 10 men, it was no surprise when Anderson Talisca added a second. Ronaldo made it three not long before the end, and Mohammed Fouzair’s late penalty was little more than a consolation.
The hosts quickly showed their star-studded visitors that they had no intention of rolling over as they started strongly. Amir Sayoud went close with a header after just five minutes and a little later they should have taken the lead as Julio Tavares fired wide when through on goal.
Al-Nassr started to impose themselves but there were few chances to satisfy coach Luis Castro.
Al-Raed were proving hard to break down and still continued to cause problems for the visiting defense with Yahya Sunbul cracking a shot against a post.
They looked to be going in goalless at the break but it did not turn out that way.
Mane made the difference. The former Liverpool and Bayern Munich forward made space for himself on the right corner of the area and then stroked a low shot into the opposite side of the net. It was a fine strike for his fourth goal in four games.
Moments later, the Senegalese star was dragged to the ground by Bander Whaeshi who was shown a straight red.
The game was almost over three minutes after the restart. Substitute Talisca picked up the ball well outside the area and then fired home a beauty into the top corner.
Al-Nassr, who have a tough trip to Iran on Tuesday to take on Persepolis, were then able to take their feet off the gas a little.
But Ronaldo did have time to get on the scoresheet. With 12 minutes remaining he took the ball from Talisca, nutmegged Oumar Gonzalez and then, in the same smooth motion, fired home a fierce left-foot shot. Fouzair’s late strike was purely academic.
Al-Nassr move into fifth, with 12 points after six games, four behind leaders Al-Hilal.
Earlier on Saturday, Al-Ettifaq went fourth with a 3-1 win at Abha. Moussa Dembele grabbed his fifth of the season just before the hour, firing home from close range after Jordan Henderson had chipped a free-kick into the danger zone.
Robin Quaison has been in excellent form and the Swedish international extended the visitors’ lead with a spectacular strike from outside the area that flew into the top corner. There was an assist from Demarai Gray, who came off the bench midway through the second half to make his debut after arriving from Everton.
The three points were sealed 10 minutes from the end. After a move that featured more than 20 passes, Gray pulled the ball back from the left for Hamed Al-Ghamdi to make it three. A late penalty from Karl Toko Ekambi had no effect on the outcome.