Cristiano Ronaldo part of new Portugal coach Roberto Martinez's plans
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A smattering of boos could be heard at the King Fahd Stadium in Riyadh on Thursday when Cristiano Ronaldo was withdrawn after 60 minutes. The Portuguese was making his first appearance in Saudi Arabia since leaving Manchester United and thousands flocked to see him in action, although some were left disappointed that his showing was cut short.
A packed-out stadium rocked up in Riyadh to witness Ronaldo play his first game since relocating to Saudi Arabia. To add to the occasion, Lionel Messi was part of the opposition as Paris Saint-Germain travelled to face a Saudi All-Star XI.
After signing a mega-money deal with Saudi side Al-Nassr, Ronaldo began the match as captain and certainly made an impact before withdrawing on the hour mark. The former Manchester United forward equalised twice during the first half – firstly from the penalty spot before firing in a rebound – with Messi also amongst the goals.
Flicks and tricks also delighted fans but Ronaldo appeared to gesture towards the bench with 30 minutes of the match remaining and stood next to the fourth official as his famous No 7 was held aloft. His early withdrawal sparked boos from some in attendance, with thousands of others denied tickets due to huge demand.
It was certainly an entertaining bow in Middle-Eastern football for the five-time Ballon d’Or winner, who cited the ‘challenge’ as one of the reasons behind his recent move to Al-Nassr after ‘winning everything in Europe’.
Supporters should see plenty more of Ronaldo over the next two-and-a-half years, with the course of the contract set to net him a colossal £173million. Al-Nassr supporters have been forced to wait for his club debut, however, with the veteran forward carrying over a two-match ban from his time at Old Trafford.
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