Cristiano Ronaldo recovered from a punch in the face to score twice against Paris Saint-Germain on Thursday in a lively clash with his great rival Lionel Messi that demonstrated the financial firepower of the resource-rich Gulf.Ronaldo, 37, was decked by PSG keeper Keylor Navas’s flailing fist but he drilled the resulting penalty and then added another in a 5-4 exhibition defeat, his first appearance since moving to Saudi Arabia in a deal said to total more than 400 million euros.
For Qatar-owned PSG, Messi and Kylian Mbappe both scored and Neymar missed a penalty before they withdrew on the hour-mark alongside Ronaldo, who was representing a composite Saudi side, to leave the world’s four best-paid players watching from the bench in Riyadh.
Hundreds of millions of euros worth of footballers were on view for the exhibition game in the Saudi capital, which comes just weeks after neighbouring Qatar spent lavishly on the first World Cup on Arab soil, won by Messi’s Argentina.
Among the packed crowd at the 69,000-seat King Fahd Stadium was a Saudi real estate mogul who paid $2.6 million at auction for a ticket giving him dressing-room access to the players.
After Ronaldo led out the Riyadh Season Team, drawn from his new club Al Nassr and Saudi rivals Al Hilal, to flame-throwers and tickertape, Messi opened the scoring after just three minutes when he was fed by the livewire Mbappe.
– Flush on the cheekbone –
Ronaldo’s first touch in Saudi football was a throw-in but he had a shot saved and a penalty appeal waved away before Navas caught him flush on the cheekbone as they challenged for a high ball.
Ronaldo, still rubbing the red mark on his face and grimacing, fired past Navas to make it 1-1 on 34 minutes.
Five minutes later, PSG’s Juan Bernat was given a straight red card for a foul on Salem Al-Dawsari — Saudi Arabia’s match-winner in their famous group-stage World Cup victory over Argentina.
The veteran Portuguese star will be paid an additional 200 million euros, the source told AFP, to be an ambassador for Saudi Arabia’s expected 2030 World Cup joint hosting bid with Egypt and Greece.
See the Video of the highlights below
Disclaimer: This video is courtesy of Fut Elite , we do not own nor claim to own the video. This video is posted here solely for entertainment purposes.