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Cristiano Ronaldo helps Al Nassr comeback to secure crucial win



Narrowing the gap to Al Ittihad

Cristiano Ronaldo and Al Nassr mounted their latest comeback to keep their title hopes alive as they came from 1-0 down to beat Abha 2-1. The victory moves them to within a single point of league leaders Al Ittihad with nine matches left to go in the season. Al Ittihad convincingly won their match earlier in the day by thumping Al Fateh 5-1 on a hat-trick by top scorer Abderrazak Hamdallah.

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Abha shock Al Nassr with opening goal

Al Nassr were shocked by a first-half Abha goal scored by Abdulfattah Adam, who happens to be an Al Nassr product on loan to Abha. The 28-year-old did well to rip a shot into the top corner, refusing to celebrate out of respect for Al Nassr and the club’s fans. Al Nassr struggled to mount a response with chaotic attacking sequences and little flow in their movements. Their urgency increased after the break, but they needed a long-distance set-piece goal by Ronaldo and a penalty kick converted by Talisca to win.

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Match highlights and updates

Goals: ABHA — Adam (Bguir) — 26th min. NASSR — Cristiano Ronaldo — 78th min. NASSR — Talisca (penalty) — 86th min. Final: No real threat by Abha to Al Nassr’s lead and Cristiano Ronaldo and his club are now just one point behind Al Ittihad for first place in the Saudi Pro League. There are 12 minutes of added time that have been given. What a turnaround by Al Nassr.

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86th min.: Penalty Al Nassr! It’s all coming crashing down for Abha. VAR makes the referee look at the handball by Abha’s Adam (the Al Nassr loanee). And Talisca converts it. Al Nassr has turned this around! Red card to Abha! It’s Al Sudani who gets the second yellow. Goal Al Nassr! It’s Cristiano Ronaldo with a free-kick rocket from distance that goes through the wall and beats Abha’s Cameroonian ‘keeper. The goal came moments after Ronaldo missed connecting on a header at the doorstep. Chance Abha! It’s Adam with the great move but he can’t finish it. Chance Al Nassr! The ball rotates among the Al Nassr attackers before it ends at Cristiano Ronaldo in the box. But his footwork doesn’t get him enough space, and his shot is blocked by Natiq once more. He’s been excellent today.

65th min.: SUB Al Nassr. Al-Khaibari is off, and Ali Alhassan is on. That’s a like-for-like swap. The Al Nassr attacking impetus is fizzling out in recent minutes. Chance Al Nassr! The ball ends up at the feet of Ghareeb on the left side, and his point-blank shot is saved by Abha goalkeeper Devis Epassy. The Cameroonian ‘keeper should great reflexes. There’s a bit more urgency in Al Nassr’s play. Chance Al Nassr! Just seconds after kicking off the second half Talisca unleashes a flying scissors kick which bounces just wide of the left post. That was close from Al Nassr to start the half. It was a disappointing first half from Al Nassr, and they didn’t create nearly enough. Cristiano Ronaldo has been slow, and there’s generally little teamwork or combination in attack with Ghareeb, Ronaldo, and Talisca all trying to do things on their own. There’s little chemistry for the men in yellow.

Meanwhile, Abha has shown solid teamwork. They’re defending as a team – including the wingers – and they got a goal from the promising Fattah Adam, who refused to celebrate given he scored against his parent club. The Abha front four can cause issues in transition. In fact, it looks more likely that Abha goes 2-0 up than Al Nassr equalizes. Five minutes of stoppage time. It’s been orderly defending by Abha. They’re looking to take a lead into the lockers.

Chance Al Nassr! It’s Ghareeb who fires from distance, and it’s deflected for a corner. But the Al Nassr chances are not making the goalkeeper work so far. Yellow to Al Nassr’s Al-Khaibari. The defensive midfielder hacks down Abha centre-forward Felipe Caicedo, who was on the break. A deserved caution, and Abha is showing they are dangerous on the break. Al Nassr is just not inspired in attack. Goal for Abha! It’s Abdulfattah Adam, who’s on loan from Al Nassr, to score it. He sends a shot into the upper 90 that can’t be stopped. Excellent defensive play by Iraq international centre-back Natiq, who intercepts Cristiano Ronaldo in the Abha box. Clean, classic defensive intervention. Disallowed goal Abha! A set piece on goal is parried by Al Nassr’s goalkeeper right at Abha centre-back Attouchi who bundles it home off the post. But the VAR intervenes, and Attouchi was offside when the free kick was taken. Goal erased. Good decision by the officials.

We’re off. Abha with early possession in their maroon away jerseys. Teams are out on the field, and we’re just about set to go. Warmups underway at Mrsool Park in Riyadh. It’ll be Felipe Caicedo (Abha) attempting to outduel Cristiano Ronaldo (Al Nassr) in this league match. More squad rotation from Rudi Garcia, who kept Talisca and Jaloliddin Masharipov on the bench and gave Luiz Gustavo a rest for the cup match. Two of the three start in a must-win game for Al Nassr, while captain Sami Al-Najei is out due to injury. Abha head coach Roel Coumans set up in a 3-4-3 that was more of a 3-6-1 in the midweek match, and star striker Felipe Caicedo wasn’t even in the squad. That changes for this league match with Abha just six points above the relegation zone. Local broadcasters in selected countries have acquired the rights to televise or stream the Saudi Pro League, while fans in other countries can subscribe to the streaming platform Shahid for complete coverage. *In the UK, Sky Sports has been showing most Saudi Pro League Al Nassr matches on their YouTube channel for free.



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