Ronaldo’s double sets new scoring record in Saudi Pro League season

Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates Al-Nassr’s goal. REUTERS

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia – Cristiano Ronaldo finished the Saudi Pro League by setting the season goal record on Monday.

Ronaldo scored twice in Riyadh as Al-Nassr defeated Al-Ittihad 4-2 to take his league tally to 35, one more than the record set in 2019 by Abderrazak Hamdallah.

In the final seconds of the first half, Ronaldo, who had already had two goals disallowed for offside, chested a long pass from Mohammed Al-Fatil and opened the scoring with a low shot from the left side of the area. .

With 21 minutes remaining, the five-time Ballon d’Or winner celebrated wildly after heading in Marcelo Brozovic’s corner. He was substituted five minutes later to a standing ovation from the home fans.

It ended an action-packed season for Ronaldo, who scored four hat-tricks and received a red card.

He was also suspended in February for making an obscene gesture at Al Shabab fans who had been chanting the name of Lionel Messi, Ronaldo’s former soccer rival.

Al-Nassr finished second in the league, 14 points behind local rival Al-Hilal, which won the championship more than two weeks ago and completed the 34-round league undefeated on Monday.

Al-Hilal were too strong even without Neymar, who joined the club in August from Paris Saint-Germain but suffered an ACL injury that ended his season in October.

Aleksandar Mitrovic stepped in and finished the season with a goal in the final seconds to earn a 2-1 victory over Al-Wehda. The Serbian striker, signed from London’s Fulham last summer, reached 27 league goals, only surpassed by Ronaldo.

On their way to the title, Al-Hilal achieved a streak of 34 consecutive victories in all competitions, a new world record for a top-level team.

“This season has been truly exceptional for the team, possibly the best in our history,” said coach Jorge Jesús. “Credit goes to the immense talent within the team and the incredible sense of unity that transcends interactions on and off the field.”

Al-Ittihad’s loss to Al-Nassr ended a disappointing season for the defending champions. Karim Benzema, from Real Madrid, had injury problems, and even with N’Golo Kanté and Fabinho in midfield, from Chelsea and Liverpool respectively, the Jeddah team could only manage fifth place.

Poor results cost Nuno Santo his job as manager in November, and the Portuguese tactician returned to the English Premier League a month later to take charge of Nottingham Forest.

Al-Ahli, the fourth of the ‘Big Four’ acquired by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund last June, finished third, 17 points behind Al-Nassr. Al-Ahli beat Al-Fayha 1-0 thanks to a late goal, former Liverpool striker Roberto Firmino’s ninth of the season.

However, Ronaldo stole the headlines and the 39-year-old still has one more chance to end the season with a trophy when Al-Nassr takes on Al-Hilal in the King’s Cup final on Friday.

Agencies via Xinhua