RIYADH: It was the Cristiano Ronaldo show once again as the megastar scored two more memorable goals to steer Al-Nassr to a 3-0 win over Al-Akhdoud on Friday. The victory, an 18th in the last 19 games in all competitions, put Al-Nassr just a point behind the leaders Al-Hilal.
The in-form Yellows started strongly against the relegation strugglers. After only a minute, Anderson Talisca shot over from just inside the area, and three minutes later, Ronaldo cut inside from the left and fired a shot that drifted past the post.
Al-Nassr took the lead after 13 minutes. From the right byline Sultan Al-Ghannam calmly rolled the ball across for Sami Al-Naji to pick his spot and fire home.
The visitors tried to get back in the game and around the half-hour thought that VAR was going to award a penalty after a clear Mohammed Al-Fatil handball in the area, but as they were discussing who was going to take the spot kick, the replays discovered an offside in the build-up.
It was a wake-up call. As half-time approached, it was the men from Narjan who were looking more dangerous, with Al-Nassr’s early fire and promise having almost disappeared.
Ten minutes after the restart, coach Luis Castro tried to inject more urgency into the proceedings. On came former Inter Milan skipper Marcelo Brozovic, Ayman Yahya and Abdulmajeed Al-Sulaiheem.
The changes almost paid off immediately, with Ronaldo, from a tight angle on the left side of goal, shooting wide. The angle was just as tight, though he was further out, moments later as he made space for himself down the left, cut inside and shot just over.
Ronaldo was looking like his team’s most potent threat, but Al-Akhdoud, with Hussain Al-Zabdani almost catching out goalkeeper Raghed Najjar with a long-distance flighted shot, were never out of the game.
That changed with 13 minutes remaining. Paulo Vitor pushed a cross to the feet of Ronaldo on the right side, but there was still a lot of work to do in the shape of a number of defenders. It was no problem as the 38-year-old fired home at the near post for his 14th league goal of the season.
A better one came three minutes later. Vitor had rushed out of his area to block as far as Ronaldo more than 30 meters out. The Portuguese chested the ball down and despite the close attention of the goalkeeper, lobbed the ball over three defenders and into the net. It was a spectacular finish.
There was no coming back from that. Once again, Ronaldo gets the headlines — and deserves them.
Al-Hilal are in action at Al-Hazm on Saturday.