Cristiano Ronaldo scores sublime free-kick to spark vital Al Nassr comeback victory

Riyadh club were trailing 1-0 at home to Abha but scored twice in the final 12 minutes to stay one point behind Al Ittihad at top of Saudi Pro League

Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates scoring for Al Nassr against Abha during the Saudi Pro League match at Mrsool Park Stadium. AFP
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Cristiano Ronaldo said he was “so happy” to score in front of Al Nassr's fans after the forward struck a free-kick to lead his side’s comeback win against Abha - and keep alive their Saudi Pro League title hopes.

The Portuguese forward, who was this week included in Roberto Martinez’s first Portugal squad, levelled the scores with 12 minutes remaining in Saturday’s night clash with Abha before Nassr went on to secure a vital 2-1 victory.

The Riyadh club, second in the table, were 1-0 down and seemingly heading into the international break with a crushing defeat. However, Ronaldo’s free-kick from 25 yards – his first goal in four matches – and Anderson Talisca’s 86th-minute penalty sealed the three points. Abha played the final 10 minutes with 10 men.

With the win, Nassr moved back to within a point of leaders Al Ittihad with nine matches remaining. Earlier on Saturday, Ittihad thumped Al Fateh 5-1.

Speaking on social media after Nassr's come-from-behind win, Ronaldo tweeted: “Great to get the win and so happy to score here in our stadium with our fans.”

Ronaldo, 38, has scored nine goals in his past eight nine appearances for Nassr, but had failed to register following a superb February in which he found the net eight times and registered two assists.

The former Manchester United, Juventus and Real Madrid attacker, who signed for Nassr in late December on a contract apparently worth more than $200 million per year, will now meet up the Portugal national team.

The 2016 European champions begin their 2024 Euros qualification campaign with a home match against Liechtenstein on Thursday before taking on Luxembourg away three days later.

Nassr, nine-time Saudi champions, return to league action on April 4, against second-from-bottom Al Adalah.

Updated: March 19, 2023, 8:10 AM