In his debut game in Saudi Arabia, Cristiano Ronaldo scored twice, and Lionel Messi also scored as Paris St. Germain defeated a Riyadh All-Star XI 5-4.
Two of the greatest players of all time played together for perhaps the last time during the exhibition game in the Saudi capital.
Ronaldo scored twice before halftime to make the score 2-2 after Messi’s opening goal.
Just after the hour mark, both players were replaced.
As Sergio Ramos added to Marquinhos’ beautiful finish in the opening stanza, the two PSG center backs also scored.
However, due to Juan Bernat’s straight red card for bringing down Saudi international Salem Al Dawsari and Neymar’s failed penalty in a breath-taking first half, the French team played the majority of the match with 10 men.
The All-Star XI and PSG were tied at 3-3 after Jang Hyun-header, soo’s but Kylian Mbappe’s penalty and substitute Hugo Ekitike’s clinical strike gave PSG the lead.
Late in injury time, Anderson Talisca hammered in a long-range consolation, but there was not enough time for a thrilling equalizer.
Due to a suspension from his time at Manchester United, Ronaldo has had to wait to make his debut following a significant move to Al-Nassr.
He will, however, make his team’s competitive debut on Sunday when they meet Ettifaq at Mrsool Park.
How appropriate that his first match in the Middle Eastern nation was a high-profile and fiercely competitive friendly against Messi, who had just won the World Cup in nearby Qatar a month before.
After just two minutes, the Argentina captain pounced on Neymar’s pass and scored the game’s first goal, but the 37-year-old captain of Portugal was not to be outdone.
Ronaldo’s first goal came from the penalty spot when PSG goalkeeper Keylor Navas’ forearm slammed into his face and knocked him to the ground, leaving him with a severely injured cheek.
After his initial header struck the post, he reacted quickly to score the second goal, displaying the drive and desire he still possesses. The fans joined in on both scores as he performed his signature celebration.
If they didn’t run into each other again in the later stages of their illustrious careers, they may have played against each other for the last time at 61 minutes.
Two superhuman sportswashing abilities flexing their muscles
Amnesty International, a human rights organization, criticized the game, saying Saudi Arabia’s sportswashing operation was “in full throttle.”
The big-money move of Ronaldo to Al Nassr and Messi’s appointment by the Saudi government as a tourism ambassador are both components of Riyadh’s aggressive sportswashing effort, according to Peter Frankental, director of economic affairs at Amnesty UK.
“In order to draw attention away from the nation’s dismal human rights record, the authorities are attempting to capitalize on the celebrity attraction of elite athletics.
The massive use of sport by Saudi Arabia as a tool of soft power is well known, but now that PSG, a team owned by Qatar, will be playing in Riyadh, we practically have two sportswashing superpowers flexing their muscles: Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
“Footballers like Ronaldo and Messi have enormous profiles, and we’d like to see them reject being exploited as the well-known faces of sportswashing, particularly by speaking out against human rights abuses in both Saudi Arabia and Qatar,” the statement continued.