Saudi Pro League: The 6 Games That Costed Cristiano Ronaldo’s Al Nassr the Title

Saudi Pro League: The 6 Games That Costed Cristiano Ronaldo’s Al Nassr the Title

Cristiano Ronaldo and Al Nassr’s hopes for a Saudi Pro League title just got pushed to the next year, as they finished runner’s up for the second consecutive season.

While the fingers just want to point at the Portuguese star for failing to lead the Knights of Najd to their first title since 2018/19, it’s also good to keep an eye on Al-Hilal’s sheer dominance, as they were just unstoppable this season.

With three games remaining Al-Hilal have lifted their 19th Pro League title with an unbeaten streak and dropping just four points out of a possible 91 available as of matchday 31.

However, Ronaldo and Al Nassr will look back at those moments were they could have given a better challenge to Al-Hilal and even lifted the title.

Cristiano Ronaldo Al Nassr
Cristiano Ronaldo (Getty Images)

The 6 games that cost Al-Nassr the title

1. Al Ettifaq 2-1 Al-Nassr, 14/08/2023

Al Nassr were the favourites to win this tie, as they came from an Arab Champions Cup success.

Even with A-list talents like Sadio Mane and other acquiescences, Luis Castro’s side could not hold on to their lead and ultimately suffered an opening day defeat against Steven Gerrard’s side.

2. Al-Nassr 0-2 Al Taawoun, 18/08/2023

The following fixture saw the return of star man and skipper Cristiano Ronaldo for the Knights of Najd.

However, the fate could be overturned, as Al-Nassr claimed their second defeat of the season.

Goals from Leandre Tawamba and Ahmed Bahusayn before half-time added more salt to the Riyadh giants’ wounds thereby denting their season.

Even though they dominated possession, the home side just couldn’t convert it in front of goal, as the hosts paid their price.

3. Al-Nassr 2-2 Abha, 06/10/2023

After a few stumbles, Al-Nassr did not delay quick response with eight consecutive victories. They were composed and collected for their ninth win but, it was not meant to be.

In just three minutes Otavio opened the scoring and Anderson Talisca doubled it before the hour mark, putting them in the driving seat.

However, an unpredicted second-half collapse saw Luis Castro’s side concede two goals that even included a stoppage-time equaliser from Karl Toko Ekambi, resulting in a 2-2 draw for the hosts, piling up the disappointment.

4. Al-Hilal 3-0 Al-Nassr, 01/12/2023

The crucial tie arrived when Al Nassr faced off against title contenders, Al-Hilal, hoping to gain some ground over their rivals.

After a closely fought first half that ended all square, Al-Hilal rose out of the ashes in the hour mark scoring three goals thereby avenging their loss in the Arab Cup.

This defeat was the third of the season for Ronaldo and co ultimately, giving way for Al-Hilal for their 19th league title later in the campaign.

5. Al-Nassr 4-4 Al Hazm, 29/02/2024

How can a team not win after scoring 4 goals? That’s a question only Al Nassr can answer.

A goal-scoring spree was in sight for the spectators that day, while everyone thought Sadio Mane had the last say with a 94th-minute penalty for Luis Castro’s side. The story was looking out for a new climax as the relegation side Hazm capitalized giving way for Paulo Ricardo to strike in the ninth minute of stoppage time, denying all three points for the hosts.

6. Al-Nassr 1-3 Al Raed, 07/03/2024

While Al-Hilal was making their home a dreadful fortress, Al-Nassr was self-destructing in a 3-1 defeat to Al Raed.

This loss was followed by a first-leg defeat to Al Ain in the AFC Champions League quarter-final.

Perhaps, they just did not get over their previous setback.

However, poor performance from key players like Ronaldo, Marcelo Brozovic, Aymeric Laporte, and Alex Telles was not part of the plan.

This was their last fall in the Saudi League, as they rose up to an impressive streak that was overshadowed by Al-Hilal, as they clinched the title with three games to spare, damaging Al-Nassr’s late-season surge.

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