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Jeddah - Yasmine El Tohamy - RIYADH: There is not much more that can be said about Cristiano Ronaldo at the moment except that he scored two more on Friday, leading Al-Nassr to a thrilling 4-3 win over Al-Ahli.
The victory gave the Riyadh club its most significant result of the season so far, even if it did get a bit tense at the end.
After two defeats in the opening two games, Al-Nassr have won their last five and are now in fifth place, just three points behind leaders Al-Ittihad.
With Ronaldo scoring for fun, grabbing nine goals in seven league games, Al-Nassr are on fire.
Al-Nassr’s attacking talent looks capable of scoring almost every time the team crosses the halfway line, and perhaps that explains the nervousness in Al-Ahli’s backline.
There were only four minutes on the clock when Sadio Mane, on the same pitch as his former Liverpool teammate Roberto Firmino, pounced on some hesitant defending to feed Ronaldo just outside the box.
Goalkeeper Edouard Mendy may blame the green smoke that had enveloped the area, but Ronaldo’s finish was perfect. In the manner of a player with over 850 goals under his belt, the 38-year-old simply stroked the ball into the net.
Moments later, the Portuguese international hit the upright as Al-Nassr, roared on by their delirious home fans, threatened to run riot.
The second goal came after 16 minutes courtesy of Anderson Talisca. Aymeric Laporta headed a right-sided free-kick back across goal and the Brazilian popped up at the far post to nod the ball home.
Al-Ahli are eying a title challenge of their own and would have gone second with a win and level on points with Al-Ittihad. They showed what they are capable of on the half-hour.
Mohammed Al-Majhad slipped a perfect pass over the top of the yellow defense, and there was Franck Kessie to run on goal and pick his spot from the edge of the area.
Both teams continued to push forward, but just as the visitors were preparing to head in at the break just a goal behind, they reckoned without Talisca. Marcelo Brozovic’s crossfield pass from the left was cleared only as far as the blond-haired attacker loitering with intent on the corner of the area, and he cut inside to send an unstoppable shot high into the net, giving Mendy no chance.
The action did not let up in the second half as Riyad Mahrez reduced the arrears once more, shooting home from the spot after Talisca followed his two fine goals with a clumsy foul in the box.
Just two minutes later, however, Ronaldo restored his team’s two-goal cushion with another top-class finish. Fed by Talisca on the edge of the area, the former Real Madrid man took a touch and then drilled a left-foot shot past Mendy and into the bottom corner. It was another example of deadly finishing.
Three minutes from the end, it was time for a local striker to get in on the act. Mahrez squared a perfect pass across the six-yard box and Firas Al-Buraikan converted for his first goal since his recent big-money move from Al-Fateh. The goal ensured a tight finish, but Al-Nassr hung on for the win.
It was an exciting match for the neutral and an exhibition of some impressive attacking play, with Ronaldo showing once again that he means business and that Al-Nassr are looking very dangerous, indeed.
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