Riyadh, Jan 19 (EFE).- Feelings of joy, pride and excitement filled this capital ahead of Thursday’s friendly between a Saudi all-star side led by Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi’s Paris Saint-Germain.
The Portuguese striker accounted for half of the four goals scored by the Riyadh Season XI and the Argentine great contributed one of PSG’s five goals.
More than 2 million people vied to occupy the 68,000 seats at Riyadh’s King Fahd Stadium for what may prove to be the final head-to-head clash of the two outstanding players of their generation.
The last time the two men faced each other on the pitch was December 2020, when Ronaldo and Juventus prevailed 3-0 over Messi’s Barcelona in a Champions League tie.
The following summer saw Ronaldo leave Turin for Manchester United, the club where he became a star, while cash-strapped Barcelona sold Messi to PSG.
The 2022 World Cup winner continues to play his club football in in France, but Ronaldo recently signed with Riyadh’s Al-Nassr after an acrimonious split with United.
People around the world tuned-in for Thursday’s contest, which was displayed on giant screens in emblematic locales such as New York’s Times Square and London’s Piccadilly Circus.
When seven-time Ballon d’Or Messi and five-time winner Ronaldo were subbed off at the hour mark, the stadium erupted.
Jang Hyun-soo and Anderson Talisca had the other goals for the hosts. Sergio Ramos, Marquinhos, Kylian Mbappe and Hugo Ekitike completed the scoring for PSG, who played more than half of the game with 10 men after Juan Bernat received a straight red card in the 38th minute for denying a scoring opportunity.
PSG’s Neymar missed a penalty in the first half. EFE sa-sr-cgs/dr