Ronaldo suffers first league defeat as Al Nassr are knocked off top of table

By Sports Desk March 09, 2023

Cristiano Ronaldo suffered his first Saudi Pro League defeat on Thursday as Al Ittihad claimed a 1-0 win to replace Al Nassr at the top of the table.

Al Nassr had not lost any of their five league games since Ronaldo's debut on February 3, drawing his first match before racking up four successive wins.

But that run came to an end against their title rivals at the King Abdullah Sports City in Jeddah.

Romarinho got the only goal of the game in the 80th minute, rounding off a devastating counter-attack.

The forward brilliantly brought down Ahmed Sharahili's right-wing delivery on the edge of the box, his first touch taking a defender out of the game before a cool finish sparked jubilant celebrations.

Al Nassr coach Rudi Garcia tried to focus on the positives, however.

"We are disappointed because we did not deserve to lose," he said

"Al Ittihad scored a goal the way they like, on the counter-attack. The league is still long. We are now behind Al Ittihad by a point.

"I am happy with my team. We played in a difficult stadium in front of a strong audience, and yet we played with a wonderful personality."

 

Related items

  • Mauricio Pochettino not expecting a vulnerable Man City in FA Cup semi-final Mauricio Pochettino not expecting a vulnerable Man City in FA Cup semi-final

    Mauricio Pochettino warned his Chelsea players not to expect to come up against a vulnerable Manchester City side when the teams meet in Saturday’s FA Cup semi-final.

    City go into the game off the back of playing extra time against Real Madrid in the Champions League on Wednesday night before eventually being knocked out on penalties, leaving less than 72 hours recovery time ahead of stepping out at Wembley.

    Pep Guardiola has had to deal with fatigue amongst his ranks in recent weeks, with midfielder Rodri admitting to needing a rest earlier this month. He was subsequently left out of the team for last weekend’s win over Luton at the Etihad Stadium but returned to the starting XI for the defeat to Real.

    They are still in contention to retain two of the three trophies they won last season, holding a two-point lead over Arsenal and Liverpool in the Premier League title race in addition to Saturday’s meeting with Pochettino’s side as they seek a third FA Cup triumph in six seasons.

    Chelsea will return to the scene of their Carabao Cup final loss to Liverpool in February, after which they were heavily criticised for failing to overcome a Reds team decimated by injury.

    Jurgen Klopp’s side triumphed in extra time despite finishing the game with four highly inexperienced academy graduates aged 21 or under on the pitch.

    And Pochettino insisted there will be no easy ride for his players as City lick their European wounds.

    “The good example is Liverpool,” he said. “People were talking about too many injured players, how many young kids they had playing. Look what happened after.

    “From our point of view, we are going to compete against Manchester City. If you ask me about their situation, I can give my opinion, but we are not talking about that. We are going to compete against them.

    “Today we were preparing, doing meetings, about the Manchester City that played against Real Madrid, that played against us in the Premier League.

    “We are not talking about playing one (City line-up) or playing another. For me, the strength of Manchester City is that they keep the same idea and the same philosophy.

    “In the last five, six, seven years, even with different players, they play in the same way, they have the structure to dominate and to create chances and to win games and to win trophies.

    “I understand the situation is tough for them after playing 120 minutes in the Champions League. Emotionally, you expend a big energy. It’s about how they recover now.

    “They are going be competitive and they have an amazing staff that look after the players. They’re going to put 11 players that will play with full energy to try and win the game.”

    Pochettino will have Enzo Fernandez available for selection after he missed Monday’s 6-0 demolition of Everton.

    The manager said the World Cup winner’s fitness will be carefully managed following reports this week in Argentina that he requires a hernia operation.

    “We are not looking for heroes,” said Pochettino.

  • Pep Guardiola says Cole Palmer is one of the players of the season Pep Guardiola says Cole Palmer is one of the players of the season

    Pep Guardiola admits Chelsea’s former Manchester City starlet Cole Palmer has been one of the players of the season.

    The City manager has also revealed the 21-year-old England midfielder had been trying to leave the Etihad Stadium for two years prior to his £42.5million switch to Stamford Bridge last summer.

    Palmer, who was considered one of City’s brightest Academy products, has been Chelsea’s most influential performer since he moved south in search of more first-team opportunities.

    Palmer has scored 25 goals this season, 11 of which have come in his last six appearances.

    He heads into Saturday’s FA Cup semi-final showdown with former club City at Wembley fresh from a four-goal salvo against Everton on Monday.

    Guardiola said: “Cole has been the decisive player, maybe of the season, in many aspects.

    “He’s an exceptional player. We knew that when he was here.

    “We know how he’s proving (himself), but he has had a lot of minutes. I said many times, I didn’t give him the minutes when maybe he deserved it. He wanted the minutes he now has at Chelsea.

    “I understand completely. I’m happy for him because he’s a lovely guy, a shy guy. He has an incredible potential, otherwise he would not have been here.

    “He’s playing good. He’s an incredible threat. He’s playing fantastically.”

    Palmer was a member of the City squad that won the treble last season and he began the current campaign strongly with goals for Guardiola’s side in the Community Shield and European Super Cup.

    Yet despite attempts to persuade the Wythenshawe-born player to stay with his hometown club, his mind to move on before the end of the summer transfer window had long been made up.

    Guardiola said: “So what can I say? The decision has been made for many reasons. He was asking for two seasons to leave.

    “I said, ‘No, stay’. At the end, (he said), ‘No, I want to leave’. What can we do? I said in pre-season, ‘Stay because Riyad (Mahrez) has gone’. He said, ‘No, I want to leave’.

    “After two seasons, what can you say? So go there. Playing at that level is exceptional. Everybody knows it.”

    City’s hopes of winning a second successive treble were dashed on Wednesday as they suffered an agonising penalty shoot-out defeat to Real Madrid in the Champions League quarter-finals.

    Their focus is now on defending the domestic double, a feat no side has previously achieved, but Guardiola prefers not to view the targets in those terms.

    Guardiola said: “We were close again (to the treble) but it didn’t happen.

    “So my advice about trebles or doubles or these things is, why are we not focused on Chelsea? It’s enough of a target to think about.

    “When you have one or two games left to the end of the Premier League and you are already in the FA Cup final, I can answer you perfectly.

    “We’ve felt, two times, how strong Chelsea are. They are really, really difficult.

    “So, win that game and see what happens the next three, four, five games in the Premier League and after we will see.”

  • Juventus hit back from two goals down to salvage a draw at Cagliari Juventus hit back from two goals down to salvage a draw at Cagliari

    Juventus fought back from two down to salvage a 2-2 draw at Cagliari but the result did little to dispel speculation over the future of manager Massimiliano Allegri.

    Allegri has faced heightened scrutiny over his long-term prospects at the Turin club after a poor run of form.

    The Old Lady hit the Serie A summit in January but have struggled for victories in recent months and almost suffered a painful defeat to old boss Claudio Ranieri.

    Cagliari raced into a two-goal lead after they were awarded two first-half penalties, which Gianluca Gaetano and Yerry Mina dispatched.

    However, Ranieri was denied a victory as Dusan Vlahovic pulled one back before Alberto Dossena put through his own net with three minutes left to leave Juventus in third position with Bologna and Roma breathing down their neck after winning only two of their last 12 league matches.

    Allegri made two changes in an attempt to arrest Juve’s stuttering form with Carlos Alcaraz and Timothy Weah handed starting opportunities.

    It failed to have the desired impact with Cagliari able to quickly take control of the contest with away stopper Wojciech Szczesny the busier of the two goalkeepers.

    After a strong start, the hosts were rewarded with the chance to go ahead on the half an hour mark when Bremer was penalised for handball after a header by Dossena.

    Gaetano fired into the bottom corner from 12yards but not long after the celebrations had finished at Stadio Unipol Domus the hosts were awarded a second spot-kick.

    Szczesny was the guilty party on this occasion after he brought down Zito Luvumbo and received a caution for his foul. Former Everton defender Mina stepped up and sent Szczesny the wrong way to spark jubilant celebrations in Sardinia.

    Juventus did have the ball in the net before half-time, but Vlahovic’s tap-in was ruled out for offside and the deficit remained at two.

    Kenan Yildiz was sent on by Allegri for the second half and the visitors did pull one back in the 61st minute.

    Federico Chiesa and Vlahovic stood over a free-kick and the latter curled a delivery around the wall for his 17th goal of the season.

    It provided hope for Juve and the next roll of the dice by Allegri was the introduce Weston McKennie and Arkadiusz Milik.

    Juve upped the ante during the final exchanges but when Vlahovic volleyed over from close range, it looked like time might run out.

    However, Allegri’s side found an equaliser with three minutes left when Dossena put the ball into his own net after a dangerous cross by Yildiz.

    Yildiz almost produced a stoppage-time winner too but fired straight at Simone Scuffer late on as the points were shared.

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.