Cristiano Ronaldo returned to action on Thursday after his unceremonious exit from the Qatar 2022 World Cup with Portugal and fans in Saudi Arabia had a lot to cheer about.
The 37-year old marked his return with two goals though his Riyadh All-Star side were beaten 5-4 by Lionel Messi’s Paris Saint-Germain in a highly entertaining friendly.
It was barely three minutes into the game when Messi broke the deadlock after receiving a smart pass from Neymar before coolly slotting home the opener.
While many had expected a one way traffic after the early goal the Riyadh All Star side grew into the game defending well at least.
After 34 minutes, Ronaldo and goalkeeper Keylor Navas collided going for a high ball which neither appeared to make contact with.
A penalty was awarded, which Ronaldo buried into the net followed by his trademark celebration.
Les Parisiens were reduced to ten men when Juan Bernat committed a last-man foul on Salem Al-Dawsari which left little option but for a red card to be produced.
Despite the setback, PSG went ahead moments later through Marquinhos’ close-range finish .
Neymar should have doubled PSG’s lead thereafter after winning a debateable penalty but his tame shoot went straight at Mohammed Al Owais’ simple dive.
In the stoppage time, Ronaldo got the equaliser for his team after his earlier effort hit the post but his rebound made it 2-2.
PSG continued from where they stopped in the second half with Mbappe setting up Sergio Ramos for a tap-in in the 53rd minute to make it 3-2
Instantly, the Riyadh side hit back through Jang Hyun-soo’s smart header from a corner whipped into the near post.
The third penalty of the game was awarded to PSG and Mbappe made no mistake to make it 4-3.
At the hour mark, Ronaldo, Neymar, Mbappe and Messi all departed the stage to standing ovations from a thoroughly entertained crowd.
Despite the exit of the superstars, there was stil enough time for a goal each from both sides.
After Hugo Ekitike made it 5-3, Anderson Talisca’s fiery finish from range though was a mere consolation gave the Saudis a happy ending as the tie ended 5-4.
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