EXHIBITION MATCH IN S’ARABIA
his Riyadh All Stars XI side ultimately succumbed to a 5-4 defeat against Lionel Messi’s PSG.
Though an exhibition game, the Portuguese star had to wait for his first appearance since joining Saudi Arabia’s Al Nassr due to a FA suspension during his Manchester United days. Two of Saudi Arabia’s biggest teams: Al Nassr and Odion Ighalo’s Al Hilal provided the top players that played Paris Saint-Germain in the friendly game.
Messi and Ronaldo shared the pitch for the first time since the latter’s Juventus side beat Barcelona 3-0 in the Champions League group stages in October 2020.
Messi and Ronaldo had previously met 36 times, with the PSG player winning 16 matches compared to just 11 victories for Ronaldo – and it was the Argentina World Cup winner who opened the scoring with a clever finish from an acute angle after just three minutes.
Ronaldo would not be kept quiet for long, however, with his first goal in Saudi Arabia restoring parity for Riyadh. It came from the penalty spot after the Portuguese was fouled inside the box by Keylor Navas.
Juan Bernat was shown a straight red card at 1-1 in the opening half to give the hosts a numerical advantage, but Marquinhos would nudge PSG back in front after finishing from Kylian Mbappe’s cross.
Neymar had the chance to extend the Parisians’ lead before the interval but he produced a tame spot-kick that was easily saved.
Moments later, Ronaldo hit the post but he would not be denied from his second effort on the stroke of half-time.
Sergio Ramos prodded home another Mbappe cross to make it 3-2 and the goals continued to flow as an Mbappe penalty would cancel out another equaliser from the home side.
Despite a late rally, a powerful finish from former Newcastle target Hugo Ekitike would prove the decisive fifth goal for PSG to make it 5-4.