Riyadh Season Cup: PSG defeat Saudi All-Star XI as Ronaldo shines in thriller match

January 19, 2023

RIYADH — Turki Al-Sheikh, head of the General Entertainment Authority (GEA), crowned Paris Saint-Germain with the Riyadh Season Cup on Thursday after a thrilling 9-goals match against Saudi All-Star XI.

The match saw Cristiano Ronaldo's first appearance in Saudi Arabia after his move to Riyadh's Al-Nassr club. Ronaldo got the man of the match award as he scored two goals for his team.

The highly anticipated match had everything: Goals from Messi, Mbappe and Ronaldo, VAR investigations, penalties, a red card, nine goals and plenty of excitement.

King Fahd Stadium in Riyadh was packed with over 60,000 fans. Saudi All-Star XI was made up of Al Nassr and Al Hilal stars in the Saudi Pro League and led by coach Marcelo Gallardo.

Bollywood star Amitabh Bachchan shook hands with players on the pitch before kick-off while former soccer legends such as Thierry Henry, Allesandro Del Piero and Francesco Totti were all in attendance.

After all the pageantry and hype, such matches end with little on-pitch excitement but this one was different. It all started in the third minute when Messi bagged the first of nine goals.

Just beyond the half-hour mark Ronaldo was caught by a punch in the face from PSG keeper Keylor Navas.

After a VAR review, Navas was given a yellow card and Ronaldo eventually, after a shake of his newly bruised head, slotted home the penalty to score his first goal in Saudi Arabia. His ensuing “siu” celebration got the biggest cheer of the night.

There followed a red card when PSG’s Juan Nernat brought down the Riyadh All-Star’s Salem Al Dawsari near the half-way line. Marquinhos put PSG ahead with a close-range finish before Neymar missed a penalty. Ronaldo grabbed a second goal just before half-time to end a thrilling half.

The second half was just as relentless, with goals from Sergio Ramos for PSG and Hyeon Soo Jang for the Riyadh All-Stars.

The match was decided when Kylian Mbappe scored another penalty in the end-to-end game.

Substitute Hugo Ekitike added a fifth for PSG as the clock ran down and the dominance of the French side shone through.

Ronaldo’s new teammate at Al Nassr, Anderson Talisca, added what was probably the best goal of the game in the dying seconds to make it 5-4. — Agencies

January 19, 2023
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