Cristiano Ronaldo sends water bottle flying after Al Nassr lose to title rivals Al Ittihad

Al Ittihad usurp Riyadh rivals at summit thanks to 1-0 victory at King Abdullah Sports City stadium

Al Nassr's Portuguese forward Cristiano Ronaldo during the Saudi Pro League match against Al Ittihad at the King Abdullah Sport City Stadium in Jeddah on Thursday, March 9, 2023. AFP
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Cristiano Ronaldo experienced his first defeat in the Saudi Pro League on Thursday night, when his Al Nassr side were knocked off top spot by Al Ittihad in Jeddah.

The league leaders were beaten 1-0 at a raucous King Abdullah Sports City, with striker Romarinho getting the decisive goal 10 minutes from time following a sweeping move from the hosts.

The win meant second-placed Ittihad usurp Nassr at the summit, giving Nuno Espirito Santo's team a one-point advantage after 20 rounds.

The defeat represented Al Nassr’s first in the league since the beginning of September, a run stretching back 18 matches. However, Ittihad did beat the Riyadh side in the Super Cup in January. Ronaldo, who signed for Nassr in late December, played in that match, too.

The Portuguese star, installed immediately as Nassr captain, failed to score for the second successive match following a remarkable February in which he struck eight times and registered two assists to claim the league’s Player of the Month award.

On Thursday, Ronaldo had only two real chances, one in either half, although in the first instance he was flagged offside after Ittihad goalkeeper Marcelo Grohe saved his low shot.

Ronaldo’s other opportunity came in injury-time, however his fierce left-footed drive was repelled excellently once more by Grohe.

The game’s only goal arrived in the 80th minute via Romarinho’s superb control and cool finish, which concluded a brilliant counter-attack from Ittihad.

The victory was Ittihad's ninth in their past 10 matches, with the eight-time Saudi champions not conceding in their last seven games. They are seeking a first top-flight title since 2009, while Nassr last lifted the domestic crown in 2019.

Nine-time champions Nassr are next in action on Tuesday in the King’s Cup quarter-final at home to Abha.

Meanwhile, fellow Riyadh club Al Shabab sit third, four points off the top, with current champions Al Hilal 14 points back in fifth – although they do have three games in hand.

Updated: March 10, 2023, 4:52 AM