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Ronaldo, Messi, Mbappe score in Saudi-PSG exhibition match

Cristiano Ronaldo got back from a punch in the face to score twice against Paris Saint-Germain on Thursday, in a tense clash with his great rival Lionel Messi that demonstrated the Gulf’s financial firepower. Ronaldo, 37, was knocked down by PSG goalkeeper Keylor Navas’ flailing fist, but he drilled the resulting penalty and then added another in a 5-4 exhibition defeat, his first appearance since moving to Saudi Arabia in a deal worth more than 400 million euros.

Messi and Kylian Mbappe scored for Qatar-owned PSG, and Neymar missed a penalty, before withdrawing on the hour mark alongside Ronaldo, who was representing a composite Saudi side, to leave the world’s four highest-paid players watching from the bench in Riyadh.

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Hundreds of millions of euros in footballers were on display in the Saudi capital for the exhibition game, which comes just weeks after neighboring Qatar lavishly spent on the first World Cup on Arab soil, which Argentina won.Information Guide Nigeria

A Saudi real estate mogul paid $2.6 million at auction for a ticket that gave him access to the players’ dressing room at the 69,000-seat King Fahd Stadium.

After Ronaldo led the Riyadh Season Team, which included players from his new club Al Nassr and Saudi rivals Al Hilal, out to flamethrowers and ticker tape, Messi scored after only three minutes when he was fed by the livewire Mbappe.

Ronaldo’s first touch in Saudi football was a throw-in, but he had a shot saved and a penalty appeal waved away before Navas caught him flush on the cheekbone during a high ball challenge.NYSC Portal

Ronaldo, still rubbing the red mark on his face and grimacing, fired past Navas on 34 minutes to tie the game.

Five minutes later, PSG’s Juan Bernat was shown a straight red card for a foul on Saudi Arabia’s match-winner in their famous World Cup group-stage victory over Argentina.JAMB Result

Messi, perhaps irritated by the intensity of the mid-season friendly, cast a reproachful glance at Ronaldo, his former sparring partner at Barcelona and Real Madrid.

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Marquinhos’ delicate finish put PSG back in front before Neymar missed his penalty, shooting tamely after a trademark stutter run-up.

Minutes later, deep into first-half injury time, Ronaldo equalized, heading against the post and then burying the rebound to make it 2-2 at the break.

Mbappe put PSG back in front shortly after the break, turning his marker inside-out and setting up Sergio Ramos for an easy finish, before Hyun-soo Jang equalized for the hosts.

However, Mbappe converted a penalty and Hugo Ekitike added a goal to make it 5-3 before Brazilian striker Talisca scored the Riyadh team’s fourth goal at the death.Jamb Portal

It was Ronaldo’s first appearance in oil-rich Saudi Arabia, where he will make his Saudi Pro League debut for Al Nassr on Sunday after signing for more than 200 million euros, according to a club source.

According to AFP, the veteran Portuguese star will be paid an additional 200 million euros to serve as an ambassador for Saudi Arabia’s expected 2030 World Cup joint bid with Egypt and Greece.

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Emediong Ekpe

Emediong Ekpe is a graduate of English. A professional Sports journalist/analyst, and a spoken word artist. He is passionate about decimating information and putting smiles on people's faces via news writing.

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