Cristiano Ronaldo vs Lionel Messi lives as much as expectations as PSG beat Saudi All-Stars

Picture Supply : GETTY Though his workforce misplaced, Ronaldo edged maybe the ultimate instalment of Ronaldo vs Messi as one of many biggest rivalries in soccer historical past.

Effectively, soccer followers throughout the globe had been handled to one more Ronaldo vs Messi sport, and this time, the feelings behind it, had been properly excessive. 

Grimacing in ache from his bruised cheekbone, Cristiano Ronaldo steadied himself earlier than scoring from the penalty spot for his first objective in Saudi Arabia in opposition to a Paris Saint-Germain workforce that includes previous foe Lionel Messi. Messi had already scored early in Thursday’s exhibition sport when Ronaldo was flattened boxing-match fashion by PSG goalkeeper Keylor Navas after about half-hour in Riyadh, town which gained sporting prominence for internet hosting a world heavyweight championship boxing bout in 2019.

It wasn’t Anthony Joshua however Navas who caught Ronaldo flush within the face along with his forearm underneath a excessive ball. Each went down like felled boxers. Ronaldo held his head, received again up, did a large yawn as if to check his sore left cheek, and despatched his former Actual Madrid teammate Navas the flawed manner.

By the tip of the primary half, Ronaldo’s cheekbone was shiny apple pink however he was all smiles after netting his second objective, smashing in a rebound when his header got here again off the submit. Poking his tongue out, Ronaldo wheeled away in delight and was mobbed by teammates on the nook flag.

When PSG star Kylian Mbappé checked on the state of Ronaldo’s cheek simply earlier than the second half, Ronaldo milked the eye from France’s World Cup star and pointed to the pink mark. Mbappé smiled at him as if to say “You’ll be fine” and Ronaldo raised his arm in triumph like a heavyweight champion. Messi’s Qatari-backed PSG gained 5-4 in opposition to a mixed XI of Saudi Arabian groups Al Nassr and Al Hilal, captained by Al Nassr’s new signing Ronaldo, in entrance of 68,000 followers at King Fahd Worldwide Stadium. 

Though his workforce misplaced, Ronaldo edged maybe the ultimate instalment of Ronaldo vs Messi as one of many biggest rivalries in soccer historical past resumed in an uncommon location. Messi’s shot led to a handball and PSG’s fourth objective, scored by Mbappé from the penalty spot.

Ronaldo got here off to an enormous ovation simply after the hour mark adopted by Mbappé and Argentina’s World Cup-winning star Messi, who was warmly hugged by countryman Marcelo Gallardo, teaching the mixed Saudi Arabian workforce. Ronaldo’s bruise darkened with the night time sky as he collected his man of the match award.

He was locked in dialog with ex-Madrid teammates Sergio Ramos and Navas earlier than the medal ceremony. Then he spoke to Portugal teammates Renato Sanches and Danilo, who play for PSG. However Ronaldo was nowhere close to Messi, nearly like they averted one another. They could not do this earlier on the sector when Ronaldo tackled Messi within the second minute.

Moments later, Messi smiled as he scored from Neymar’s lofted cross. Ronaldo seemed irritated along with his teammates for letting Messi ghost into area. Harsh, as a result of few defenders have ever tracked Messi’s runs, not to mention stopped them. The World Cup proved that if it was ever unsure.

There was scant interplay between former Madrid star Ronaldo and Messi, his arch-rival throughout Barcelona’s glory days. It was Ronaldo who tentatively approached an impassive-looking Messi on the centre circle seconds earlier than the whistle blew to begin maybe their last sport as opponents.

There was a well mannered alternate, the briefest handshake. Messi stared at Ronaldo late within the first half, after PSG defender Juan Bernat had been despatched off, and Ronaldo appeared to look away from Messi.

It was a special temper within the tunnel beforehand, when a grinning Ronaldo hugged Ramos, who now performs alongside Messi, and joked with Ramos that he’d forgotten to take away an ear stud. The giggle was on Ramos later, when he air-kicked a free ball on Ronaldo’s second objective. PSG’s Neymar additionally missed, from the penalty spot.

The ambiance constructed earlier than the beginning as followers waved Argentina flags whereas others held up the yellow jersey of Al Nassr, pointing proudly to Ronaldo’s No. 7 on the again. The ticker tape poured from the stands as Ronaldo led his workforce out. He smiled and winked when he received a loud ovation.

Ronaldo might finish his storied profession in Riyadh after signing a deal price a reported USD 200 million a yr, swapping Europe’s elite membership competitors for the Asian Champions League. He makes his Saudi league debut for Al Nassr on Sunday in opposition to Ettifaq, removed from the fields the place he shone for Manchester United and Madrid.

A Rivalry For The Ages

The Messi-Ronaldo rivalry has been among the many biggest ever.

Between them, they’ve 12 Ballon d’Or awards — Messi a report seven, Ronaldo 5 — and have gained a mixed 56 main trophies. Ronaldo gained the Champions League 5 occasions, in comparison with Messi’s 4. Messi is the all-time “El Clasico” prime scorer with 26 objectives for Barca, eight greater than Ronaldo for Madrid.

In 2016, Ronaldo was victorious on the European Championship, however in 2021 and 2022, Messi shone throughout Argentina’s Copa America and World Cup victories. Ronaldo holds the report for essentially the most objectives scored by a male participant in worldwide soccer with 118, whereas Messi’s 98 objectives, together with seven on the World Cup, place him in third place general.

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