In a thrilling 9-goal match today in Riyadh, Lionel Messi’s PSG defeated the Saudi All-Stars XI captained by Cristiano Ronaldo.
In what might be their final ever encounter, Messi and Ronaldo both scored as Paris Saint-Germain defeated a Riyadh All-Star XI 5-4 in a thrilling exhibition game in Saudi Arabia this afternoon.
Ronaldo played in the match for the first time in Saudi Arabian football since joining the club earlier this month following his contentious split from Manchester United. His debut for Al-Nassr had been delayed due to a previous suspension from his time at Old Trafford.
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With two goals on the night, the 37-year-old did not disappoint his fans, though Messi, his enduring nemesis, ultimately came out on top after scoring the game’s first goal after only three minutes.
Four goals, a red card, and two penalties were scored in the first half alone of this action-packed match, and five more goals were scored in the second half as PSG defeated their Saudi Pro League-playing opponents.
PSG manager Christophe Galtier named a strong starting lineup, which included the star attacking trident of Neymar, Messi, and Kylian Mbappe—the latter two starting together for the first time since stealing the show in the World Cup final—despite seeing their Ligue 1 title bid hurt by defeat to Rennes just four days earlier and an upcoming cup game on Monday.
After Neymar chipped the ball through, it only took Messi three minutes to deliver the opening blow in what had been billed as the latest and possibly final chapter in the illustrious Messi vs. Ronaldo rivalry. Messi then guided a finish past the advancing goalkeeper.
Keylor Navas, whose transfer to Al-Nassr has been rumored, denied Ronaldo on his first shot at goal. The two former Real Madrid teammates then played a part in the All-Star XI’s equalizer.
As that, PSG was reduced to 10 men after Juan Bernat was sent for taking down Salem Al Dawsari as the last man, despite the fact that the Saudi Arabian international, who famously scored the game-winning goal against Messi’s Argentina at the World Cup, was a fair distance from the goal.
The 43rd minute saw Marquinhos flick home Mbappe’s cross into the area, giving the French champions their second lead in as many minutes.
However, there was still time for more drama in the first half as Neymar earned a penalty after Ali Al Bulayhi’s challenge. The penalty was initially not awarded but was changed after the referee checked the pitchside monitor.
Although the Brazilian’s subsequent penalty effort was terrible and the goalkeeper easily saved to his left, Ronaldo made up for it by tying the score in the sixth minute of first-half stoppage time.
The five-time winner of the Ballon d’Or’s original glancing header struck the post and rebounded, but Sergio Ramos, a former teammate from Real Madrid, failed to clear his lines, allowing Ronaldo to score on the rebound.