COMMENT: Cristiano Ronaldo’s Al-Nassr were knocked out of the Saudi Super Cup on Thursday.
It was an all too familiar sight at the King Fahd International Stadium on Thursday night. Cristiano Ronaldo was unable to influence another competitive match as his lacklustre run continues, despite tackling opponents that are of a lower standard. And, perhaps tellingly, he did not even seem too upset at the full-time whistle – perhaps showing that some of that winning desire may have finally abandoned him in his new surroundings.
The Portuguese international was unable to open his account for Al-Nassr on the night, failing to influence proceedings in an underwhelming display. Ronaldo’s side were knocked out of the Saudi Super Cup, losing 3-1 to rivals Al Ittihad.
In the past, we may have seen Ronaldo storming off down the tunnel in anger, with his competitive nature taking over. On this occasion, however, other than looking slightly annoyed there was barely any fire in the belly, and one has to wonder whether Ronaldo’s heart is really in it anymore.
Romarinho opened the scoring in the 15th minute before Morocco international Abderrazak Hamdallah doubled the home side’s advantage on the cusp of half-time. Al-Nassr halved the deficit through Anderson Talisca in the 67th minute, with Ronaldo playing no role in the goal.
That was the story of the tie for the 37-year-old, who was unable to make his mark on the match in the second half. Al-Ittihad, managed by former Tottenham and Wolves manager Nuno Espirito Santo, then put the game to bed late on to dampen the spirits of the supporters who arrived with high expectations of seeing Ronaldo roll back the years.
The five-time Ballon d’Or winner struggled for minutes with Manchester United, in part due to how he was unwilling to press high and not contributing to the general play of the team, and he does not appear to have learned his lesson from Old Trafford. The striker continued to strut around when his side were out of possession, half-heartedly trying to rally his troops after his side went behind.
Ronaldo went close to scoring his first competitive Al-Nassr goal when he had an effort from close range, and that ended up being his match highlight after smashing a free-kick over the bar in the second half.
Expectations are potentially unrealistically too high for Ronaldo in Saudi Arabia given that he has struggled for consistent game time over the past 12 months. However, former United forward Odion Ighalo – who plays for Al Hilal – feels it is only a matter of time before he sets the Saudi Pro League alight.
He told Oma Sports TV: “Ronaldo is a legend. He is the best, for me, is the GOAT, I have too much respect for him, and admiration for him. He is going to play for his own team and he will score goals and me, I am going to play for my own team and I will score goals. So we will see how it goes. I wish him all the best in Al-Nassr, then I will do my job for Al-Hilal and we will see at the end of the season.”