RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — If that is to be the final time Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi meet on the identical pitch, at the very least they placed on a present.
Thursday evening was GOATs within the Gulf, an exhibition match between a Riyadh Season Team that includes Ronaldo, newly signed as much as the Saudi Pro League, and Messi’s Paris Saint-Germain. Even although it wasn’t fairly Real Madrid towards Barcelona or Portugal vs. Argentina, the 2 outdated rivals did what they’ve completed so many occasions earlier than. They scored objectives. In the tip, Messi acquired one and Ronaldo two in a recreation that ended 5-4 to PSG, with each gamers substituted off after an hour.
– Report: Messi, Ronaldo rating as PSG win pleasant
For Messi, it was a continuation of the shape he confirmed in main Argentina to success on the World Cup only a month in the past. For Ronaldo, whose final recreation resulted in tears as Portugal have been knocked out by Morocco within the quarterfinals, it was a reminder that regardless of a messy break up from Manchester United and a troublesome time in Qatar, he nonetheless is aware of easy methods to rating objectives. He ought to get loads in Saudi Arabia judging by among the defending on present, and Al Nassr, his new membership, shall be anticipating it after shelling out $200 million a yr for his providers.
Ronaldo, named man of the match to no person’s shock, was the star of the present, and, sitting on the bench for the ultimate half-hour, he blew kisses to the gang when he was proven on the stadium’s large screens. Laughing and joking with Sergio Ramos earlier than the sport and carrying a broad smile as he walked out forward of kick-off beneath a wave of silver confetti, he did not appear like a person sad with the current twist in his profession.
Exactly a yr earlier, Ronaldo was beginning for United in a 3-1 win at Brentford and simply a few weeks from scoring Premier League hat methods towards Tottenham and Norwich. Having waved goodbye to European soccer, he should accept a few objectives towards Ettifaq FC on Sunday when he lastly makes his debut for Al Nassr. If nothing else, Ronaldo shall be adored in Saudi Arabia, and the supporters carrying a set of shirts from Al Nassr, United, Juventus and Portugal — all bearing his identify and No. 7 — cheered each contact as if each have been flying into the web.
Messi’s first contact did go in — brilliantly arrange by Neymar — after three minutes, however Ronaldo did not take lengthy to even it up. Jumping to move a free-kick floated into the penalty space, he was clattered by former Real Madrid teammate Keylor Navas, and Qatari referee Abdulrahman al Jassim pointed to the spot.
Despite needing remedy for a minimize lip, Ronaldo dispatched the ball emphatically from 12 yards as he has completed so many occasions earlier than, then ran to the nook for his “Siu!” celebration, which was replicated in unison by many of the crowd on the King Fahd International Stadium. Ronaldo one, Messi one. With honours even, it might have been a becoming approach to finish the half, however for the ultimate 5 minutes everybody appeared to overlook it was meant to be an exhibition recreation.
First, PSG defender Juan Bernat was despatched off for wiping out Mohamed Kanno on the midway line. Then Marquinhos scored a tap-in to make it 2-1, earlier than PSG had the possibility to make it 3-1 when Neymar was awarded a penalty after a VAR overview. However, the Brazilian hit a penalty so weak that Mohammed Al-Owais might have run across the objective twice and nonetheless saved it. Maybe Messi is bored of taking penalties after scoring six, together with shoot-outs, on the World Cup.
What’s sure is that Ronaldo, approaching his thirty eighth birthday and firmly within the remaining stage of his profession, is not bored of scoring objectives, and with seconds left on the finish of the primary half, he acquired above Ramos to move towards the publish after which flip within the rebound. Cue extra “Siu!” from him and the gang.
– Stream on ESPN+: LaLiga, Bundesliga, extra (U.S.)
By the time Ronaldo and Messi — final on the identical pitch when Barcelona met Juventus within the Champions League in 2020 — have been substituted after 60 minutes, the rating was 4-3. And regardless of the cameras and the followers showing decided to focus extra on the benches than the precise recreation in the direction of full-time, each PSG and the Riyadh staff — which was made up of gamers from Al Nassr and Al Hilal — scored once more.
A recreation filled with objectives completed 5-4, which felt becoming given the 2 gamers everybody got here to see have gotten greater than 1,600 between them. Wherever there’s Ronaldo or Messi, there at all times appear to be objectives, and so they delivered as supposed within the desert.