AL-HASA: Cristiano Ronaldo got off the mark for his new Saudi paymasters Al Nassr on Friday with a stoppage-time penalty that rescued a 2-2 away draw against Al Fateh. The Portuguese, who turns 38 on Sunday, buried the spot-kick in the 93rd minute for a point that left the Riyadh club joint top of the Saudi Pro League with a game in hand over Al Shabab.
Ronaldo broke his duck in his third appearance, after he fired blanks in the January 22 league win over Ettifaq and in this week’s Super Cup loss to Al Ittihad. Days before his Al Nassr debut, he scored twice for a Saudi composite team in an entertaining 5-4 loss to a Paris Saint-Germain side featuring his great rival Lionel Messi.
The five-time Ballon d’Or winner, who holds the all-time records for Champions League and international goals, will bank more than 400 million euros for his surprise move to Saudi, according to sources close to Al Nassr.
The giant sum includes 200 million euros for promoting Saudi Arabia’s expected joint bid to host the 2030 World Cup, the sources told AFP. Ronaldo has become a figurehead for the conservative kingdom’s push to improve its reputation through sports – a process that has drawn accusations of “sportswashing”, or trying to sanitize its human rights record. – AFP