Cristiano Ronaldo, grimacing in pain from his cheekbone bruise, composed himself before scoring from the penalty spot for his first goal in Saudi Arabia against a Paris Saint-Germain side with his old enemy Lionel Messi.
Messi had already scored earlier in Thursday’s exhibition game when Ronaldo was flattened boxing-style by PSG goalkeeper Keylor Navas after around 30 minutes in Riyadh, the city that gained sporting prominence for hosting a bout boxing world cup in 2019.
It wasn’t Anthony Joshua but Navas who caught Ronaldo in the face with his forearm under a high ball.
Both went down like downed boxers.
Ronaldo held his head, stood up, yawned wide as if to test his aching left cheek and sent his former Real Madrid teammate Navas the wrong way.
By the end of the first half, Ronaldo’s cheekbone was bright apple red, but he was all smiles after scoring his second goal, and he crashed a rebound as his header went off the post. Sticking his tongue out, Ronaldo happily walked away and was mobbed by teammates at the corner flag.
When PSG star Kylian Mbappé checked the condition of Ronaldo’s cheek just before the second half, Ronaldo caught the French World Cup star’s attention and pointed to the red mark.
Mbappé smiled at him as if to say “You’ll be fine” and Ronaldo raised his arm triumphantly like a heavyweight champion.
Messi’s Qatar-backed PSG won 5-4 against a combined eleven of Saudi sides Al Nassr and Al Hilal, captained by new signing Al Nassr Ronaldo, in front of 68,000 fans at the King Fahd International Stadium. Although his team lost, Ronaldo may have topped the last installment of Ronaldo vs. Messi as one of the greatest rivalries in football history resumed in an unusual venue.
Messi’s shot led to a handball and PSG’s fourth goal, scored by Mbappé from the penalty spot.
Ronaldo received a standing ovation just after the hour followed by Mbappé and Argentina’s World Cup-winning star Messi, who was warmly embraced by compatriot Marcelo Gallardo, coaching the combined team of the Saudi Arabia
Report from The Associated Press.
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