Cristiano Ronaldo booked and hooked as Al Nassr advance in King's Cup

Portuguese star fails to find the net but Riyadh side recover from Saudi Pro League setback

Al Nassr's Cristiano Ronaldo during the King's Cup quarter-final against Abha at Mrsool Park Stadium in Riyadh on March 14, 2023. AFP
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Cristiano Ronaldo’s Al Nassr bounced back from last week’s dispiriting defeat to Saudi Pro League rivals Al Ittihad by booking a place in the King’s Cup semi-finals.

The Riyadh side, who with the 1-0 loss to closest challengers Ittihad let slip their league lead, defeated Abha 3-1 on Tuesday night in the last-eight encounter at Mrsool Park.

Seeking a domestic double, Nassr needed only 10 seconds to get off the mark, when Sultan Al Ghannam prodded the ball through to Sami Al Najei and the Nassr forward evaded a defender to slot home.

Abha almost equalised immediately after, only for Nassr defender Alvaro Gonzalez to clear Saleh Al Amri's effort off the line.

On 21 minutes, Nassr doubled their advantage. Left-back Ghislain Konan sent a low cross into the penalty area, with Abdullah Al Khaibari sweeping home a fine finish on the volley.

Ronaldo, the big-money signing in late December, did drag wide a shot from the edge of the Abha penalty area, before he sent a free-kick into the opposition wall.

Al Nassr v Abha - in pictures

In first-half injury-time, the five-time Ballon d’Or winner was booked for dissent. Looking to spring a break, Ronaldo could not contain his frustration at the referee blowing for half-time – and promptly received a yellow card for angrily kicking away the ball.

Nevertheless, Nassr extended their lead right at the beginning of the second half, when Abha goalkeeper Devis Epassy flapped at a corner and Mohammed Marran finished from a tight angle.

Abha pulled back a goal on 69 minutes, through substitute Abdulafattah Adam pouncing on Nawaf Al Aqidi’s save to give his side a lifeline. Moments before, Epassy had tipped brilliantly a shot from range on to his crossbar.

Ronaldo, who scored eight times last month, later flicked a header wide and sent another free-kick into the Abha wall. He was substituted for Anderson Talisca, Nassr’s returning top scorer, four minutes from time – a decision Ronaldo did not appear to agree with.

The former Manchester United, Juventus and Real Madrid forward was seen shaking his head as he took his place on the bench. Ronaldo, 38, has now failed to score in three matches.

Nassr, six-time King’s Cup winners, will meet Al Wehda in next month’s semi-final. They face Abha again, this time in the league, on Saturday before the competition pauses for the international break.

Updated: March 14, 2023, 5:04 PM