Cristiano Ronaldo was a mere bystander on Thursday, along with 19,000 fans, as Al-Nassr were somehow held to a 4-4 draw by relegation strugglers Al-Hazm.
The Riyadh giants stay second in the Roshn Saudi League but are now six points behind leaders Al-Hilal who have a game in hand.
It was an incredible game as star-studded Al-Nassr took the lead on four occasions, thanks to a hat-trick from Anderson Talisca and a late penalty from Sadio Mane. Yet somehow, the visitors, who arrived in the capital bottom of the table, came back four times to earn a much-needed point.
It added to what had already been a roller-coaster week for Ronaldo, who watched from the stands first in delight, then frustration, then delight again, before disbelief.
In the early hours of Thursday, the Saudi Arabian Football Federation’s Ethics and Discipline Committee suspended the Portuguese star for one game after he was found making an offensive gesture following his team’s victory over Al-Shabab in the Saudi Pro League on Sunday.
The home fans chanted the player’s name before the game started and then they did the same again with seven minutes on the clock, in honor of his shirt number. He acknowledged the support with his fist in the air.
Toze netted for the visitors midway through the first half but the Portuguese forward’s emphatic strike was ruled out for offside.
Al-Nassr took the lead after 31 minutes. Sami Al-Najei was brought down in the area by Paulo Ricardo and after VAR had taken a look, Talisca made no mistake in finding the bottom corner.
Al-Nassr continued to push forward in an attempt to give themselves a cushion and immediately after the restart Al-Najei netted but the goal was ruled out for offside.
The Yellows were left to rue that decision after 55 minutes as Ahmad Al-Mhemaid headed home at the far post after Al-Nassr had failed to clear a corner.
Just after the hour, Talisca put Al-Nassr back in front, but the lead lasted only four minutes, Toze sprinting free of the defense to slot home for 2-2, despite some offside doubts.
Both teams were struggling at the back and it was no surprise when Talisca completed his hat-trick after 71 minutes, heading home an Alex Telles cross in majestic fashion.
There was more terrible defending with six minutes of regulation time remaining as Al-Hazm equalized again. The ball was allowed to bounce in the area, despite the presence of multiple yellow shirts, and there was Faiz Selemani on hand to stroke home to make it 3-3.
It looked as if Al-Nassr had thrown it away, and Ronaldo was not the only one with his head in his hands.
But then, in the 91st minute, the hosts were thrown a victory lifeline as Al-Hazm goalkeeper Aymen Dahmen punched Meshari Al-Nemer after missing the ball. Sadio Mane stepped up to score what was surely the winning goal from the penalty spot.
But it proved not to be. With 100 minutes played, Al-Nassr failed to deal with another ball into the box and there was Ricardo to fire home from close range.
There was general disbelief in the stadium as the final whistle sounded. Ronaldo was shaking his head, Talisca was on his haunches, the atmosphere desolate.
Surely, amid the silence, the sound of Al-Hilal fans celebrating could have been heard. The leaders can go nine points clear if they defeat Al-Ittihad on Friday.