Cristiano Ronaldo expected to shake off neck injury to be fit for Riyadh derby

Al Nassr captain, 38, was withdrawn from the Asian Champions League match against Persepolis following collision with opposition goalkeeper

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Cristiano Ronaldo is expected to be fit in time for this week’s crucial Saudi Pro League clash against Al Hilal, despite appearing to injure his neck in the Asian Champions League on Monday.

The Al Nassr captain, 38, was withdrawn from the Group E encounter with Persepolis on 77 minutes having earlier collided with opposition goalkeeper Alireza Beiranvand.

Coming to collect a high ball, Beiranvand’s momentum meant he landed on Ronaldo, who seemed to tweak his neck. The five-time Ballon d’Or winner looked to be in some discomfort before he was eventually subbed off.

Speaking after the 0-0 draw, which secured Nassr’s progress to the knockout stages as group winners, manager Luis Castro said: “The medical staff is studying the injury. It is not an easy thing. God willing, the medical staff will do its job of healing and [Ronaldo will] be ready for the next match."

Commenting on social media afterwards, Beiranvand posted a picture of the incident with the caption: “I hope no problem has happened to you.”

However, Ronaldo did not mention the potential injury on his account, simply posting on X (formerly Twitter): “Happy that we qualified first in our group and to have achieved 20 games unbeaten. Great teamwork.”

Ronaldo had been involved in the game’s very first talking point, when he convinced the referee to change his mind after awarding him a fourth-minute penalty. The Portuguese appeared to have been brought down by Persepolis defender Soroush Rafiei inside the area, with Chinese referee Ma Ning pointing to the spot.

Persepolis players protested the decision and were immediately joined by Ronaldo, who told the official there had been no foul. Ma Ning reviewed the incident on a pitchside monitor and rescinded the decision.

While Nassr were obviously concerned by Ronaldo’s need to come off early on Monday night, it is thought he will be available for Friday’s highly anticipated top-of-the-table league match with Hilal.

Nassr go into the Riyadh derby, taking place at Hilal’s King Fahd International Stadium, four points off their city rivals after 14 rounds. Hilal remain unbeaten domestically, while Nassr have won 11 and drawn one of their past 12 league matches after losing their opening two games.

Updated: November 28, 2023, 8:54 AM