Legends of football Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi faced each other for likely the last time in the state-sponsored Saudi Festival, Riyadh Seasons
A thrilling friendly fixture in Saudi Arabia, state-sponsored and worth all the hype and investment- the Riyadh Seasons Al Hilal x Al Nassr All-Stars vs Paris Saint Germain.
The match included nine goals, a missed penalty, a red card, VAR intervention (the referee’s performance is worth a mention-perfect on a difficult night), and of course, two of the best players in recent memory, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, shared the field for what may have been the final time.
Cristiano Ronaldo captained Riyadh Season XI against PSG and produced a Man of the Match performance against old foes Lionel Messi, Neymar, and Kylian Mbappe. He was also against former teammate and captain at Real Madrid, Sergio Ramos.
Both teams were competitive from the onset. PSG made a break down their left flank as Mbappe finds Messi, who scores with a deft left-footed finish in just 3 minutes.
Cristiano Ronaldo gave an indication that he is not just done with the work in football. His performance on the night gave fans nostalgia. Lionel Messi and Co were not in to give the Riyadh All-Stars an easy time despite being on their turf. The King Fahd stadium has been busy in recent days, hosting Supercopa de Espana and the Italian Super Cup.
Riyadh Season got a penalty in the 34th minute. A chance to equalize and Cristiano Ronaldo took it with great aplomb. Five minutes and PSG are down to ten men as Juan Bernat gets sent off for a foul against a possible chance on goal. PSG must be feeling the heat in Saudi.
It didn’t take long for Riyadh Seasons to respond. Marquinhos found the back of the net in the 43rd minute. More drama as PSG get a penalty in added time. Neymar steps up but after a rather slow run-up misses the penalty.
Minutes later and Cristiano Ronaldo gets his brace. His glancing header ricochets off the post before he strikes it into the net with Ramos desperately trying to block it on the line. 2-2 at halftime!
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In the 54th minute, Kylian Mbappe turns the defender in and out before passing to Sergio Ramos for PSG to restore their lead. 2 minutes later and we are back on level terms. South Korea defender Hyun-Soo Jang finds the back of the net with a fantastic header from a corner.
In the 58th minute, Ali Al-Boleahi has his hands in the way of a shot on goal, and PSG are awarded a penalty. Kylian Mbappe steps up and scores. After an hour of action-packed play, both teams substitute their key players, with Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo coming off. For PSG, Neymar also leaves the game, reducing the excitement of the contest.
PSG stars are off-field but they are still dangerous. Ekitike scores and PSG have a 2-goal cushion. Al Nassr striker Talisca makes sure that this is not how the fixture ends as he scores a stunner late on to end the match at 5-4.
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