Cristiano Ronaldo did not cut a very happy figure as his side Al-Nassr fell to a 1-0 defeat to Al-Ittihad. Ronaldo was denied a goal in the match, making it the second time in a row that the Portuguese great has failed to find the back of the net. Al-Ittihad goalkeeper Marcelo Grohe had parried away a fierce shot from the Portugal superstar in injury time.
Al-Ittihad’s fans taunted Ronaldo throughout the match, repeatedly chanting the name of his rival, Lionel Messi. Ronaldo, who has scored eight goals in seven league games this season, took off his captain’s armband before leaving the pitch and looked set to throw it, before regaining his composure. He proceeded to kick water bottles at the touchline. However, he also applauded the Al-Nassr supporters before leaving the field of play.
Ronaldo gesticulated towards the Al-Ittihad fans a few times during the match as well in response to their taunts.
The Portugal captain later thanked the Al-Nassr fans in a tweet. “Disappointed with the result, but we stay focused on our season and the games ahead. Thank you Al Nassr fans for your support, we know we can count on you!” he said in the tweet.
Brazilian Romarinho scored 10 minutes from time to seal victory for Al-Ittihad, who leapfrogged Al-Nassr to take top spot in the league table. The chants from Al-Ittihad fans comes amid growing speculation about Messi potentially joining Ronaldo in Saudi Arabia, albeit for a different team. The Argentine, who completed a glittering career resume last year by lifting the World Cup in Qatar, will visit for a holiday, Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Tourism Ahmed Al-Khatib said.
“I am happy to welcome our Tourism Ambassador… and his family and friends this month… to enjoy our most beautiful tourism destinations, connect with our people and enjoy unique experiences!” Al-Khatib said on Twitter. The news came hours before the exit of Messi’s French club Paris St Germain from the European Champions League on Wednesday.
The oil-rich nation appointed Messi its tourism ambassador last year, and he visited Jeddah in May, before returning in January to play a friendly match with PSG against a team of Saudi League stars, when he faced Ronaldo.
Ronaldo’s deal with Al-Nasr sealed last year — widely reported to be worth more than 200 million euros over 2 1/2 years — led to rumours of a renewed rivalry with Messi in the Saudi League, after local media reported Al-Hilal and Al-Ittihad’s interest in signing the world champion. The Saudi Sport website reported on Wednesday that Al-Hilal had already made him a “huge offer” to join once his contract with PSG ends in June.