RIYADH: Cristiano Ronaldo starred on Saturday as Al-Nassr continued their fine run of form with a 2-0 win over Al-Khaleej to keep the pressure on Roshn Saudi League leaders Al-Hilal. The victory, a 10th in 11 league games for Luis Castro’s men, keeps the team in second, four points behind their Riyadh rivals.
It was the kind of win that won’t live too long in the memory but that is necessary for any team to lift the league title at the end of the season. Al-Nassr are collecting three-point hauls with the minimum of fuss.
They went at the visitors from the start and had the ball in the net after just 10 minutes. Abdulrahman Ghareeb flicked the ball through for Sadio Mane and the Senegalese star fired home a low shot from the left side of the area. No sooner had the celebrations started than the goal was ruled out for an offside decision.
The headlines should not all be about the attacking stars, however, as goalkeeper Nawaf Al-Aqidi made a top-class save from a close-range header from Mohammed Al-Khabrani.
It did not take long for Al-Nassr to score a legitimate goal, and it was no surprise that it came courtesy of Ronaldo and that it was a beauty. The five-time Ballon d’Or winner had possession on the left side of the “D,” twisted and turned to find an angle, and then, with the minimum of backlift, fired an unstoppable shot into the left side of the Al-Khaleej net.
It was the 12th league goal of the season for the Portuguese star as he cemented his place at the top of the goalscoring standings. It was also the kind of strike that is becoming increasingly familiar to fans in Saudi Arabia.
Just before the hour, Ronaldo turned provider. From a position on the right side of the area, he fired a deep free-kick back across goal for Aymeric Laporte to score his first goal for Al-Nassr from the closest of ranges. From then on, the result was never really in doubt and the home fans in Riyadh celebrated another win.
Al-Nassr are back in action on Tuesday as they travel to Qatar to take on Al-Duhail in the Asian Champions League, just two weeks after the dramatic 4-3 win over the team from Doha. Depending on other results, a win could be enough for the Saudi Arabians to secure a place in the knockout stages of the continental competition with two games to spare.