Cristiano Ronaldo took a blow to the face from former teammate Keylor Navas but recovered to score twice as the Portuguese striker appeared for a Saudi All-Star XI against Lionel Messi and Paris Saint-Germain on Thursday.
Making his first appearance in Saudi Arabia since joining Al Nassr in a record-breaking deal earlier this month, Ronaldo scored from the penalty spot and added a second goal with a finish in first-half injury time at the King Fahd Stadium.
Messi had put PSG in front after just three minutes of the match, and the French visitors ended up winning an entertaining game 5-4 thanks to further goals from Marquinhos, Sergio Ramos, a Kylian Mbappe penalty, and a strike from Hugo Ekitike.
PSG also saw Neymar miss a first-half penalty and had defender Juan Bernat sent off in the 39th minute.
Ronaldo’s brace came after he recovered from a bruising encounter with PSG goalie Navas – his former teammate at Real Madrid. Navas came out to deal with a cross but ended up missing the ball and elbowing Ronaldo in the face, leaving the striker in a heap on the floor.
The incident saw the Saudi All-Stars awarded a penalty, which Ronaldo tucked away to level the game at 1-1. The 37-year-old was left with red marks and bruising, which were inspected more closely by PSG forward Mbappe.
Mbappe took a closer look at the marks on Ronaldo’s face following the incident with Navas. © Twitter
After delighting Saudi fans with his goal-scoring double and some flashes of brilliance – including a cheeky nutmeg on midfield rival Carlos Soler – Ronaldo was substituted in the 61st minute and was later handed the Man-of-the-Match award, while PSG’s megastar trio of Messi, Neymar and Mbappe were withdrawn soon after the Portuguese forward.
The match was a brief mid-season jaunt to the Middle East for the Qatari-owned PSG, who will return to the business of domestic football when they play Pays de Cassel in the French Cup on Monday.
Ronaldo, meanwhile, is finally set to make his official bow for Al Nassr in the Saudi Pro League meeting against Al Ettifaq on Sunday. The Portuguese star, who has signed a two-and-a-half-year deal reportedly worth up to €200 million ($217 million) a season, has thus far been prevented from appearing for his new team after serving a two-match ban imposed by the English FA from his days at Manchester United, where he slapped a cell phone out of the hands of a young fan in a fit of frustration last season.
Thursday’s game in Riyadh was billed as potentially the last time fans will get to see Ronaldo and World Cup winner Messi – who boast 12 Ballon d’Ors between them – on the same pitch.