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SAUDI PRO LEAGUE

Ronaldo wins first title at Al-Nassr with brace in Arab Club Champions Cup final

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Arab Club Champions Cup - Final - Al Hilal v Al Nassr - King Fahd Stadium, Taif, Saudi Arabia - August 12, 2023 Al Nassr's Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates with the trophy after winning the Arab Club Champions Cup final REUTERS/Stringer

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.

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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.

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-Reuters

 

 

Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

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SAUDI PRO LEAGUE

Ronaldo breaks Saudi League’s single-season scoring record

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Saudi Pro League - Al Nassr v Al Ittihad - Al-Awwal Stadium, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia - May 27, 2024 Al Nassr's Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates scoring their second goal REUTERS/Stringer

Al Nasr’s Cristiano Ronaldo capped his first full Saudi Pro League season in style as he broke the record for the most goals scored in one campaign on Monday.

The Portuguese 39-year-old scored a brace in his side’s 4-2 win over Al Ittihad on the final matchday to bring his league tally this season to 35 goals.

The previous record was held by former Al Nasr forward and Moroccan international Abderrazak Hamdallah, who scored 34 goals in 2018-19.

Ronaldo, who played for Sporting, Manchester United, Real Madrid and Juventus, joined Al Nasr in January 2023.

-Reuters

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SAUDI PRO LEAGUE

Ighalo’s former club, Al-Hilal secure Saudi League title

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Saudi Pro League - Al Hilal v Al Hazem - Prince Faisal Bin Fahd Stadium, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia - May 11, 2024 Al Hilal fans display banners in the stands as the celebrate after winning the Saudi Pro League REUTERS/Stringer

Undefeated Al-Hilal won a record-extending 19th Saudi Pro League title on Saturday with a 4-1 victory over Al-Hazem to reclaim the trophy from Al-Ittihad who won it last season.

Jorge Jesus’ side hold a 12-point advantage over Cristiano Ronaldo’s Al-Nassr in second with three matches remaining.

Aleksandar Mitrovic gave Al-Hilal the lead from the penalty spot after 15 minutes but Faiz Selemani netted the equaliser for Al-Hazem in the 34th minute.

However, Jesus’s side took the lead again with an own goal from Ahmed Al-Juwaid in the 39th minute.

Mitrovic scored again in first-half stoppage time and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic scored three minutes later to make it 4-1.

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Al-Hilal are chasing the treble having clinched the Saudi Super Cup title in April, and having reached the Saudi King’s Cup final where they will play Al-Nassr.

-Reuters

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SAUDI PRO LEAGUE

Morocco’s Hamdallah whipped by fan  after Saudi Super Cup final

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A fan at the Saudi Super Cup final lashed an Al-Ittihad player with a whip during a confrontation moments after the match Thursday night.

The incident occurred following Al-Ittihad’s 4-1 loss to Al-Hilal in the final played at Abu Dhabi’s Mohammed Bin Zayed Stadium.

A video circulating on social media shows striker Abderrazak Hamdallah throwing water from a bottle at the fan, who responds by pulling out a long whip and lashing at the Morocco international twice — appearing to hit the player’s back the second time.

The 33-year-old Hamdallah, who had missed a penalty but later scored his team’s only goal during the game, did not appear to be injured.

As Hamdallah’s teammates stepped in, the fan was guided away by another spectator and a security official. In the video, the fan did not appear to be detained.

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A young fan in a wheelchair was nearly caught in the middle of the altercation. Former Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema plays for Al-Ittihad but was not close to the incident. Injured Al-Hilal star Neymar didn’t play in the game but helped his team lift the trophy during the celebrations.

In 2023, the Super Cup was expanded from a single game between the league champions and King’s Cup winners to include the runners-up from both competitions. It was also moved to Abu Dhabi.

Al-Ittihad did not respond to a request for comment.

Hamdallah played on the Morroco team that reached the semifinals of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. He came on as a substitute in three group-stage games.

He is in his sixth season playing in Saudi Arabia.

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-AP

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