AL-MAJMAAH: Al-Nassr’s aspirations for clinching the Saudi Professional League title took a major hit as they were held to a disappointing goalless draw by underdog team Al-Fayha. Adding to the frustration, Cristiano Ronaldo, a key player for Al-Nassr, left the pitch visibly angry following a lackluster performance on Sunday.
Al-Ittihad, the current league leaders, capitalized on the opportunity to widen the gap with Al-Nassr to three points as only seven games remain in the season. They secured a hard-fought 2-1 victory against Al-Wehda. Furthermore, Al-Ittihad holds an advantage over Al-Nassr in their head-to-head results.
Cristiano Ronaldo, who joined Al-Nassr in January in a contract reportedly worth over 200 million euros ($218 million) according to media estimates, had a frustrating performance.
The 38-year-old Portugal captain missed a golden opportunity in the 68th minute when his shot was saved by goalkeeper Vladimir Stojkovic, who even kissed the ball. Ronaldo then went on to miss two more chances in the span of six minutes, as he fired the ball over the bar.
Even Anderson Talisca, the league’s top scorer, failed to make an impact in the match, as Al-Nassr struggled to find the back of the net.
Ronaldo left the pitch visibly furious as his goal tally halted at 11 goals in 10 league games. He even took off the captain’s armband, clutching it in his hand in frustration.
Al-Nassr coach Rudi Garcia expressed his dissatisfaction with both the performance and the result. Speaking through a translator to the Saudi Sports Company (SSC), the French coach said, “The result is definitely disappointing, and we are not happy.
I am not satisfied with the players’ performance. I had asked them to replicate the level of play from the last game, a 5-0 victory against Al-Adalah, but unfortunately, that did not happen.”
Al-Nassr, who last won the title in 2019, faces a crucial match next week against Al-Hilal, the defending champion and currently fourth in the standings. This match may prove to be pivotal in determining the outcome of the title race.
Garcia added, “With seven games left, we will try to bounce back. We know it won’t be easy after dropping two points, but anything is possible.”
Meanwhile, Al-Fayha took a dig at Ronaldo on Twitter, posting an edited image of their captain, Sami Al-Khaibari, sitting in front of Ronaldo at a chess table.
This was a reference to a famous advertisement featuring Ronaldo’s rival, Lionel Messi. The image was captioned “checkmate” and garnered over 1.9 million views, compared to the usual views for other page posts, which were significantly lower, at fewer than 100,000 views.