If that is the final time Ronaldo and Messi face off, they didn't disappoint within the desert


RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — If that is to be the final time Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi meet on the identical pitch, no less than they placed on a present.

Thursday night time was G.O.A.T.S. within the Gulf, an exhibition match between a Riyadh Season Staff that includes Ronaldo, newly signed as much as the Saudi Professional League, and Messi’s Paris Saint-Germain. Though it wasn’t fairly Actual Madrid towards Barcelona or Portugal vs. Argentina, the 2 previous rivals did what they’ve finished so many instances earlier than. They scored targets. Ultimately, Messi obtained 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 led to tears as Portugal had 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 tips on how to rating targets. He ought to get a lot in Saudi Arabia judging by a number of the defending on present and Al Nassr, his new membership, might be anticipating it after shelling out $200 million a yr for his providers.

Ronaldo, named man of the match to no one’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 massive 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 to be a person sad with the current twist in his profession.

Precisely a yr earlier, Ronaldo was beginning for United in a 3-1 win at Brentford and simply a few weeks away from scoring Premier League hat-tricks towards Tottenham and Norwich. Having waved goodbye to European soccer, he must accept a few targets towards Ettifaq FC on Sunday when he lastly makes his debut for Al Nassr. If nothing else, Ronaldo might be adored in Saudi Arabia and the supporters carrying a set of shirts from Al Nassr, United, Juventus and Portugal — all bearing his title and No.7 — cheered each contact as if every one was 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. Leaping to go a free-kick floated into the penalty space, he was clattered by former Actual Madrid teammate Keylor Navas and Qatari referee Abdulrahman al Jassim pointed to the spot.

Regardless of needing remedy for a minimize lip, Ronaldo dispatched the ball emphatically from 12 yards as he has finished so many instances earlier than earlier than operating to the nook for his “Siu!” celebration, which was replicated in unison by many of the crowd on the King Fahd Worldwide Stadium. Ronaldo one, Messi one. With honours even, it will have been a becoming technique 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 Mohammed 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 following a VAR assessment. Nonetheless, the Brazilian hit a penalty so weak that Mohammed Al Owais might have run across the objective twice and nonetheless saved it. Possibly 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 closing stage of his profession, is not bored of scoring targets and with seconds left on the finish of the primary half, he obtained above Ramos to go towards the submit after which flip within the rebound. Cue extra “Siu!” from him and the gang.

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By the point Ronaldo and Messi — final on the identical pitch when Barcelona met Juventus within the Champions League in 2020 — had 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 workforce — which was made up of gamers from Al Nassr and Al Hilal — scored once more.

A recreation filled with targets 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 targets they usually delivered as meant within the desert.

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