- PSG defeated Saudi All-Star XI 5-4
- Messi opened the scoring as Ronaldo scored a brace
- Ronaldo and Messi met head to head in possibly their final match against each other
Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo scored in what could be their final meeting as Paris Saint-Germain defeated a Riyadh All-Star XI 5-4 in an entertaining and end-to-end exhibition match in Saudi Arabia this afternoon.
Ronaldo’s first appearance in Saudi football since joining Al-Nassr earlier this month following his acrimonious departure from Manchester United was delayed by an existing ban from his time at Old Trafford.
The 37-year-old did not disappoint his fans, scoring two goals on the night, though it was his eternal rival Messi who came out on top, scoring after only three minutes.
An action-packed match saw four goals, a red card, and two penalties in the first half alone, before PSG took the game away from their hosts, whose squad was made up of Saudi Pro League players.
PSG’s Star filled lineup
PSG boss Christophe Galtier named a strong starting lineup, including the star attacking trident of Neymar, Messi, and Kylian Mbappe – the latter two starting together for the first time since stealing the show in the World Cup final – despite seeing their Ligue 1 title bid harmed by a defeat to Rennes just four days earlier, and an upcoming cup game on Monday.
After Neymar’s chipped ball through, Messi struck the first blow in what had been billed as the latest and possibly final chapter in the storied Messi vs. Ronaldo rivalry, steering a finish past the onrushing keeper after only three minutes.
Ronaldo’s first shot on goal was saved by Keylor Navas, who has been linked with a move to Al-Nassr, and the two former Real Madrid teammates were involved again as the All-Star XI equalised.
Following a free kick into the box, Navas collided with Ronaldo, catching him with his forearm and prompting the referee to point to the spot for a penalty, which Ronaldo duly converted.
When Juan Bernat was shown a straight red card for bringing down Salem Al Dawsari as the last man, the referee ruled that he had denied a clear goalscoring opportunity despite the Saudi Arabia international being some distance from goal.
However, Mbappe’s cross into the box was flicked home by Marquinhos in the 43rd minute to put the French champions back ahead.
Neymar misses penalty
There was still time for more drama in the first half, as Neymar won a penalty after a challenge by Ali Al Bulayhi that was initially disallowed, only to be overturned when the referee went to the pitchside monitor.
The Brazilian’s subsequent penalty kick, however, was dreadful, as the keeper easily saved to his left, and Ronaldo punished that by tying the game in the sixth minute of first-half stoppage time.
The five-time Ballon d’Or winner’s initial glancing header hit the post, but Sergio Ramos failed to clear his lines, allowing Ronaldo to slam home the rebound.
Ramos made amends for his error eight minutes into the second half when he converted from close range after Mbappe beat his man three times down the left channel before picking out the Spaniard in the middle.
Three minutes later, Jang Hyun-soo equalised with a glancing near-post header from a corner, but PSG were back in front three minutes later, with Mbappe converting from the spot after Al Bulayhi blocked a Messi shot with his arm.
Ronaldo, Messi, Neymar, and Mbappe were all taken off shortly after the hour mark, and the action finally began to calm down after that.
Hugo Ekitike effectively sealed the win for PSG 12 minutes from time after being released through on goal and slamming home his finish, making Talisca’s low stoppage-time drive from range a mere consolation for the Saudi XI.
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