Messi's PSG beat Ronaldo-led Riyadh XI in a high-scoring thriller 5-4

Portuguese striker scores two goals in his Saudi Arabia debut

By Reuters

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Riyadh All-Star's Portuguese forward Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates his team's third goal. — AFP
Riyadh All-Star's Portuguese forward Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates his team's third goal. — AFP

Published: Thu 19 Jan 2023, 11:42 PM

Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi transported fans back in time to the heyday of their storied rivalry, as both forwards got on the scoresheet in an exhibition match on Thursday before Hugo Ekitike earned 10-man PSG a 5-4 win over the Riyadh Season Team.

While the match may not have much lasting significance for the teams involved, soccer fans around the world got plenty of bang for their buck as a story that has dominated the sport for over a decade appeared to come to an end in a memorable goalfest.


Paris Saint-Germain's Argentine forward Lionel Messi shoots during the match. — AFP
Paris Saint-Germain's Argentine forward Lionel Messi shoots during the match. — AFP

In an action-packed first half at the King Fahd Stadium in Riyadh, goals from Messi and Marquinhos were cancelled out by a Ronaldo brace, while PSG's Juan Bernat was sent off for a lunging tackle on Saudi international Salem Al-Dawsari.

The game resumed at a frenetic pace after the break, with goals coming thick and fast as Sergio Ramos turned in a Kylian Mbappe cross for PSG before South Korean Jang Hyun-soo replied with a near-post header from a corner to make it 3-3.


A handball by Ali Al-Bulaihi gave the visitors a penalty, which was expertly dispatched by Mbappe on the hour, before Hugo Ekitike extended the lead to 5-3 with a thumping finish following a lung-busting run from the halfway line.

Anderson Talisca scored late for the Saudis in added time, but Ekitike's strike proved to be enough on the night.

Though he was unable to get his newest chapter in Saudi Arabia off to a winning start, 37-year-old Ronaldo will take heart from his performance as he prepares to make his first competitive appearance for Al Nassr when they host Al Ettifaq on Sunday.


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