Cristiano Ronaldo frustrated as Al Nassr denied a place in King’s Cup final
Cristiano Ronaldo suffered another blow at Al Nassr when his side were dumped out of the King’s Cup semi-finals on Monday night by 10-men Al Wehda.
Nassr, who sit three points off the Saudi Pro League summit following last week’s derby defeat to Al Hilal, were outdone in Riyadh by a 23rd-minute bicycle kick from Jean-David Beauguel.
Ronaldo, who signed for Nassr in December on a hugely lucrative deal, did have chances to get his side back into it, but left Mrsool Park visibly disappointed with the result.
Wehda will now take on Hilal in the next month’s final, while Nassr must dust themselves off for the resumption of their title bid later this week.
The Riyadh club, currently with Dinko Jelicic as caretaker coach after Rudi Garcia’s dismissal earlier this month, sit second in the table with six matches remaining, although leaders Ittihad do have a game in hand.
Nassr, who won the last of their nine top-flight titles four years ago, are next in action in the league on Thursday, with a home clash against 11th-placed Al Raed.
Against Wehda on Monday, Ronaldo had the first sight of goal on nine minutes, but dragged wide a low, left-footed shot from around 25 yards out. Soon after, he forced a fine save from Munir Mohamedi with a back-post header.
Yet Wehda took the lead midway through the first half, when a mix-up between Nassr goalkeeper Nawaf Al Aqidi and defender Alvaro Gonzalez allowed Beauguel to send an unchallenged acrobatic effort into the hosts’ net.
Before the half was out, Nassr top-scorer Anderson Talisca drove high over the Wehda crossbar from range, while Ali Al Hassan flashed a shot across the visitors’ goal.
Ronaldo, who had failed to score in his previous three matches, did not hide his frustration as he left the pitch at half time, making known his feelings to members of the Nassr backroom staff.
Moments into the second half, the Portuguese forward again had a back-post header saved superbly by Mohamedi. Ronaldo could only shake his head in disbelief.
On 52 minutes, Wehda were reduced to 10 men when Abdullah Al Hafith was shown a second yellow card, this time for bringing down Ronaldo as he shaped to shoot. Ronaldo fired the resultant free-kick high beyond the Wehda goal.
Just after the hour, Al Hassan shot straight at Mohamedi from the angle, and Abdulrahman Ghareeb then pulled a shot wide as Mohamedi and his defence failed to clear a high ball.
Ronaldo, though, had his best chance with eight minutes remaining. Swivelling to meet a deflected cross, the former Manchester United and Real Madrid star cannoned a close-range shot against the Wehda crossbar. He really should have scored. Ronaldo seemed to understand the opportunity missed; he promptly held his head in his hands.
Nassr thought they had scored deep into the seven minutes of injury-time when Ronaldo beat Mohamedi to a free-kick and headed back across goal. However, Luis Gustavo’s header was then cleared off the Wehda goalline by Oscar Duarte.
Wehda, currently 13th in the Saudi Pro League, held on for a famous victory, with Ronaldo left to run another dispiriting night with Nassr.
Updated: April 25, 2023, 2:44 AM