Cristiano Ronaldo sets new Saudi Pro League goals record with double against Al Ittihad

Portuguese striker ends the league season with 35 goals, beating Abderrazak Hamdallah's previous best by one goal

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Cristiano Ronaldo may have missed out on the Saudi Pro League title but the Portuguese superstar did end the campaign with a new goalscoring record.

Ronaldo, 39, scored twice in Al Nassr's 4-2 win over Al Ittihad on Monday that took his league tally to 35 goals, one more than the record previously set in 2019 by Abderrazak Hamdallah.

In the final seconds of the first half, Ronaldo, who already had two goals ruled out for offside, chested down a long pass from Mohammed Al Fatil and opened the scoring with a low shot from the left side of the area.

With 21 minutes remaining, the five-time Ballon d’Or winner celebrated wildly after heading home a corner from Marcelo Brozovic. He was substituted off the field five minutes later to a standing ovation from the home fans.

"I don't follow the records, the records follow me," he wrote in an Instagram post.

It ended an action-packed season for Ronaldo, who scored four hat-tricks and collected one red card. He was also suspended for an obscene gesture in February aimed at Al Shabab fans who had been chanting the name of Lionel Messi, Ronaldo’s longstanding rival.

After being eliminated by eventual winners Al Ain in the quarter-finals of the Asian Champions League in March, Al Nassr finished second in the league, 14 points behind local rivals Al Hilal, who finished their league campaign unbeaten.

Aleksandar Mitrovic, a summer signing from Premier League side Fulham, ended the season with a goal in the final seconds to clinch a 2-1 win over Al Wehda. The Serbian striker reached 27 league goals, second only to Ronaldo.

Al Hilal's 19th title, a Saudi record, was built largely on the back of a world-record 34-game win streak, broken only by Al Ain in the Asian Champions League semi-finals.

“This season has been truly exceptional for the team, arguably our best ever,” Hilal coach Jorge Jesus said. “The credit goes to the immense talent within the squad and the incredible sense of unity that transcends both on and off-field interactions.”

Al Ittihad's defeat at Al Nassr ended a disappointing season for the defending champions. Karim Benzema, signed from Real Madrid, struggled with injuries and even with N'Golo Kante and Fabinho in midfield, signed from Chelsea and Liverpool respectively, the Jeddah team could manage only fifth place.

Al Ahli, the fourth of the ‘Big Four’ clubs taken over by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund last June, finished third, 17 points behind Al Nassr. Al Ahli beat Al Fayha 1-0 thanks to a late goal – his ninth of the season – from former Liverpool forward Roberto Firmino.

Ronaldo still has one more chance to end the season with a trophy when Al Nassr meet Al Hilal in the King’s Cup final on Friday.

Updated: May 28, 2024, 7:23 AM