Cristiano Ronaldo issues rallying cry to Al Nassr after angry reaction in Al Ittihad loss

Portuguese star could not hide his frustration at the 1-0 defeat to title rivals in Jeddah on Thursday night as he booted water bottles on way from pitch

Al Nassr's Portuguese star Cristiano Ronaldo suffered defeat against Al Ittihad in the Saudi Pro League. AFP
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Cristiano Ronaldo has sent a message to Al Nassr supporters following the club’s top-of-the-table defeat to Al Ittihad – a result which caused the forward to lash out angrily at water bottles as he departed the pitch.

Nassr, chasing a first Saudi Pro league title in four years, went into the clash in Jeddah at the standings summit, but were beaten 1-0 by their closest challengers at a vociferous King Abdullah Sports City. Romarinho, the former Al Jazira striker, struck the game’s only goal 10 minutes from time.

The defeat, Ronaldo’s first in the league since joining in late December and Nassr's first in 18 top-flight matches, meant the Riyadh side slipped to second, one point behind Ittihad with 10 rounds remaining.

Having scored eight times last month, Ronaldo failed to register for the second successive match, although he did force a fine save from Ittihad goalkeeper Marcelo Grohe at the death.

However, Ronaldo struggled to make any real impact on the match, and was visibly upset at full-time. Some of his Nassr teammates attempted to calm down the Portugal captain, but he was caught on camera booting several water bottles at the side of the pitch as he headed for the tunnel.

Ronaldo, 38, later tweeted: “Disappointed with the result, but we stay focused on our season and the games ahead. Thank you Al Nassr fans for your support, we know we can count on you!”

Nassr, nine-time Saudi champions, are next in action on Tuesday, when they host 11th-placed Abha in the quarter-finals of the King’s Cup.

Meanwhile, Ittihad stretched their unbeaten run to 11 matches, with nine of those victories. The Jeddah side, seeking a ninth top-flight crown but first since 2009, had not conceded in their past seven games.

Manager Nuno Espirito Santo, in his first role since being sacked by Tottenham Hotspur in late 2021, said afterwards: "We faced an organised team that did not give us spaces, and was dangerous in counter-attacks, but our players performed wonderfully by taking possession of the ball and waiting.

“The players deserve praise not me... the atmosphere in the stadium was fantastic today, and it helped the team in every moment of the match. This contact between the players and the fans is a very good thing for the team.”

Updated: March 13, 2023, 6:31 AM