TAIF-Cristiano Ronaldo guided 10-man Al-Nassr to their first ever Arab Club Champions Cup title after scoring twice in a 2-1 extra-time win over fellow Saudi side Al-Hilal on Saturday.
Ronaldo failed to land a trophy last season after his move to Al-Nassr, who finished runners-up in the Saudi Pro League, but the 38-year-old scored six times in the tournament to finish as its top scorer en route to the title. The tournament is played by top Arab clubs in the region and included teams from Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Iraq, Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria.
The star-studded Al-Nassr side had many chances to score in the first half with close season signings Sadio Mane, Seko Fofana and Marcelo Brozovic all denied by goalkeeper Mohammed Alowais. The game at King Fahd Sports City stadium remained scoreless until six minutes into the second half when Al-Hilal’s Malcom crossed the ball and found fellow Brazilian Michael, who put his side ahead with a free header.
To rub salt into their wounds, the 27-year-old even produced the Ronaldo goal celebration as he ran to the corner flag and leapt into the air. That seemed to fire up Ronaldo and the Portugal captain equalised in the 74th minute when he got on the end of a low cross from right back Sultan Al-Ghannam to score for a fifth game in a row.
Al-Nassr defender Abdulelah Al-Amri was sent off in the second half before Nawaf Boushal was given his marching orders while on the bench for arguing with an official, but they held on to take the game to extra time. Ronaldo then doubled the lead in the first half of extra time when he pounced on a rebound off the crossbar and headed home with the goalkeeper off his line.
There were concerns, however, when Ronaldo was carted off the field with an apparent injury after a collision in the second period of extra time -- just two days before their Saudi Pro League opener against Al-Ettifaq.