Cristiano Ronaldo struck a superb winner in the Riyadh derby against Al Shabab on Tuesday night to keep alive Al Nassr’s Saudi Pro League title chances.
The Portuguese forward, signed in December, scored the decisive goal as his side came back from 2-0 down to triumph 3-2 at Mrsool Park.
Second-placed Nassr’s hopes of a first top-flight title in four years had been slipping away, with the team trailing to two first-half goals from Cristian Guanca. At the same time, leaders Al Ittihad were 1-0 up at home to Al Batin.
However, Brazilian Anderson Talisca pulled a goal back for Nassr just before half time and winger Abdelrahman Ghareeb levelled the scores six minutes after the interval.
Ronaldo, 38, then stepped up with arguably the finest of his 14 league goals thus far – and undoubtedly his most important. Just before the hour mark, the Nassr captain collected the ball, shrugged off a challenge, evaded a marker and then whipped a 20-yard shot inside the Shabab far post.
The goal sparked wild celebrations on the pitch and in the stands.
Speaking to SSC TV immediately after the three vital points were secure, Ronaldo said: "The team played a fantastic game. Being behind 2-0 is very difficult but we believed until the end, and we scored three goals.”
The win keeps Nassr three points behind Ittihad with two rounds remaining. However, with the Jeddah club holding a superior head-to-head record against Nassr, they can clinch a first Saudi league crown in 14 years if they defeat 12-placed Al Fayha on Saturday night.
Nassr faced Al Ettifaq, in 10th, also on Saturday.