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Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Ronaldo and Messi look back in time in a nine-goal thriller.

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Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi bring fans back to the heyday of their legendary rivalry, with both strikers joining the scorers’ chart in Spectacle on Thursday and Hugo Ektiche in the 10-man Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) Resulting in a 5-4 victory. The game may not have lasting significance for the teams involved, but football fans around the world will see the story that has dominated the sport for over a decade ending in an unforgettable goal-fest. It was a huge success.

Ronaldo and Argentina’s Messi have dominated the sport over the last 15 years, winning the Ballon d’Or 12 times between them. Their rivalry grew during the nine years in which they faced off against each other in Spain – when Messi was starring for Barcelona and Ronaldo for Real Madrid. In an action-packed first half at the King Fahd International Stadium in Riyadh, goals from Messi and Marquinhos were canceled out by a Ronaldo brace, while PSG’s Juan Bernat was sent off for a lunging tackle on Saudi international Salem Al-Dawsari.

The game resumed at a frenetic pace after the break, with goals coming thick and fast as Sergio Ramos turned in a Kylian Mbappe cross for PSG before South Korean Jang Hyun-soo replied with a near-post header from a corner to make it 3-3. A handball by Ali Al-Bulaihi gave the visitors a penalty, which was expertly dispatched by Mbappe on the hour before Hugo Ekitike extended the lead to 5-3 with a thumping finish following a lung-busting run from the halfway line. Anderson Talisca scored late for the Saudis in added time, but Ekitike’s strike proved to be enough on the night.

Despite failing to start his latest chapter in Saudi Arabia, Ronaldo, 37, is preparing for his first competitive appearance at Al Nasr, which hosts Al Etifaq on Sunday. Sources close to the club say the match will mark the first time Ronaldo has played football in the kingdom since signing his more than €200 million ($216 million) deal with Al Nasr, which runs until 2025. The latest, and perhaps final, chapter in Ronaldo’s illustrious career comes just weeks after Portugal’s World Cup quarter-final defeat in Qatar saw Messi lift the Argentina trophy.

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