How Did Cristiano Ronaldo Lift Al-Nassr in the AFC Champions League Last 16 with a Late Winner?

How Did Cristiano Ronaldo Lift Al-Nassr in the AFC Champions League Last 16 with a Late Winner?

Saudi Pro League’s Al-Nassr, led by their 39-year-old club captain from Portugal Cristiano Ronaldo, were scheduled to face fellow side from the oil-rich region Al-Fayha in the AFC Champions League Last 16 for a great chance to capture that elusive crown in the Asian region at the end of the season. The evergreen Ronaldo proceeded to lift his Al-Nassr side in the AFC Champions League Last 16, finding the back of the net late in the game to win the first leg, and the team will be returning to their home for the second leg with a 1-0 advantage.

The AFC Champions League Last 16 first leg against Al-Fayha at Prince Faisal bin Fahd Stadium was the first competitive game Ronaldo’s Al-Nassr has played in the new calendar year of 2024, having competed in the Riyadh Season Cup 2024 (Beating Lionel Messi’s Inter Miami CF 6-0 and losing to Al-Hilal 2-0) earlier this month, and Al-Nassr certainly could not ask for a better start than a win in the AFC Champions League to kickstart their competitive timetable in 2024.

Al-Nassr showed their dominance against their weaker Saudi Pro League opponents in the AFC Champions League Last 16 first leg, securing a superior possession and shot total of 77% and 14 against the home team’s 23% and 2 in the 90 minutes plus added time. That being said, Al-Fayha, led by their Serbian manager Vuk Rašović, were able to withstand Al-Nassr’s pressure for a large part of the AFC Champions League Last 16 first leg clash, until Al-Nassr finally broke the deadlock with only nine minutes remaining in the normal playing time.

27-year-old Saudi Arabia national team defensive midfielder Abdullah Al-Khaibari received the ball in the Al-Fayha half, and he measured his space for a chance to pass the ball forward. He then found Ronaldo just outside the penalty box, before the five-time Ballon d’or winner played a superb one-two with Marcelo Brozović. The former Inter Milan man lifted the ball to the all-time leading goal scorer of the UEFA Champions League, and Ronaldo went on to chip the volley into the top right corner of the Al-Fayha goal, beating 40-year-old Serbian goalkeeper Vladimir Stojković during the process.

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Ronaldo’s effort would be the only goal of the game, meaning Al-Nassr gained a 1-0 advantage after this AFC Champions League Last 16 game. Al-Nassr, spearheaded by Mr. UEFA Champions League Ronaldo, have three more competitive matches in the month of February 2024, that are, two Saudi Pro League games as well as the returning leg of this AFC Champions League Last 16 cup tie.

Luis Castro’s men will first play Al-Fateh SC at their home of Al-Awwal Stadium for the recommence of the Saudi Arabian top-flight football, before hosting Al-Fayha at the same stadium for the AFC Champions League Last 16 second leg. Al-Nassr will then end their February 2024 schedule with an away trip to Al-Shabab FC Stadium, visiting Al-Shabab FC for their 21st league game in the 2023/2024 Season. Ronaldo’s side are currently second in the Saudi Pro League table after 19 games played, trailing leaders Al-Hilal by a substantial margin of 7 points with 15 games remaining in 2023/2024.

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