Ronaldo was silent, Al Nassr lost the King Cup final

Saudi Arabia Superstar Cristiano Ronaldo did not score, as Al Nassr lost 4-5 to Al Hilal in the King Cup final penalty shootout.

*Scorer: Mitrovic 7′ – Yahya 88′.

After goalkeeper Yassine Bono pushed away Meshari Al Nemer’s decisive penalty shot, Al Hilal players and coaching staff rushed onto the field, including unregistered players like Neymar. Meanwhile, Ronaldo burst into tears, even though he scored in the penalty shootout. At one point, Al Nassr was just one penalty shot away from winning the Cup, but midfielder Ali Al Hassan could not beat the Moroccan goalkeeper.

Bono shined like he did when Morocco eliminated Spain in the 2022 World Cup round of 1/8 penalty shootout. During the match, he also frustrated Al Nassr’s attacking players many times, with at least three save against Ronaldo.

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Ronaldo dribbles the ball in the match against Al Hilal at King Abdullah Stadium, Jeddah city, Saudi Arabia, at the King Cup final on the evening of May 31, 2024. Photo: ANFC

Ronaldo’s best chance this match was facing goalkeeper Yassine Bono on the right side of the penalty area, from Ayman Yahya’s through ball in the 35th minute. Coach Luis Castro flashed a smile at that time, but was surprised and opened his mouth when The captain’s shot hit the Morocco goalkeeper’s leg and knocked him out. A few minutes later, the 39-year-old striker dribbled the ball from the left again, past midfielder Kalidou Koulibaly, but his curling shot was still pushed away by Bono.

At the beginning of the second half, Ronaldo had a chance to score again, from Otavio’s cross. The ball turned slightly, but captain Al Nassr leaned back and hooked the ball beautifully, but the ball bounced off the post. The Portuguese superstar waved his hands in the air and expressed regret. If successful, he could have equalized for Al Nassr. In this match, Al Hilal opened the scoring in the 7th minute thanks to Aleksandar Mitrovic.

In the 56th minute, Al Hilal counterattacked quickly and brought the ball to striker Malcom. He dribbled past, causing goalkeeper David Ospina to use his hands to catch the ball outside the penalty area. Immediately, the referee issued a direct red card, disqualifying Ospina, leaving Al Nassr with only 10 people.

However, Al Nassr still kept the ball more in the remaining minutes, creating many opportunities. In the 63rd minute, Ronaldo took a free kick from a distance of about 25 meters to the right, towards the far corner, but it wasn’t difficult enough so Bono still pushed it away. 10 minutes later, Ronaldo received a good cross from right back Sultan Al Ghannam, but the Al Nassr captain was startled and blocked the ball from flying to the goalkeeper. He shouted regretfully, then raised his hands to cover his face.

The turning point came in the 87th minute, when midfielder Ali Al Bulayhi got angry with a situation where an Al Nassr player set his foot. The referee gave Bulayhi a yellow card, but midfielder Al Hilal was still not calmed down, bumped his head into another player and received a straight red card and was sent off the field. Midfielder Ruben Neves then shouted at Bulayhi, because Al Hilal had the advantage of playing against others and only had 10 players left on the field.

Not only were their numbers balanced, Al Hilal were also equalized in the following situation. Midfielder Ali Lajami threw in from the right for Yahya to jump high and head towards the far corner to equalize for Al Nassr.

The situation became even more difficult for Al Hilal when in the 90th minute, Koulibaly unnecessarily kicked goalkeeper Waleed Abdullah in the head. The referee issued a second yellow card, meaning a red card and disqualification for the Senegal midfielder. The reigning Saudi Pro League champion then had only nine players left on the field.

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Striker Aleksandar Mitrovic celebrates opening the score for Al Hilal. Photo: 433

Despite playing better in extra time, Al Nassr could not score, forcing the two teams to compete for the cup with a penalty shootout. Al Hilal is more appreciated when they have Bono, the goalkeeper who shined at the 2022 World Cup in the penalty shootout against Spain in the 1/8 round. Meanwhile, Al Nassr only uses a 38-year-old reserve goalkeeper who has only played one match since the 2022-2023 season. That was shown in the penalty shootout, when Bono pushed away three of Al Nassr’s penalties, while Abdullah only managed to block one shot.

The King Cup is like the National Cup of Saudi Arabia, taking place in a cross-season knockout format. With this title, Al Hilal completed a treble, including Saudi League, King Cup and Saudi Super Cup.

Ronaldo ended the 2023-2024 season with 50 goals in 51 matches in all competitions for Al Nassr. However, the team only won one title, the Arab Club Champions Cup in August 2023.

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