Ronaldo's Saudi Title Hopes Revived After Leaders Lose
PARIS, France - Cristiano Ronaldo's dream of lifting the Saudi league trophy with Al-Nassr is still alive after a surprising twist in the title race on Wednesday. The Portuguese star, who joined the Riyadh-based club in January saw his team's chances boosted when leaders Ittihad suffered a shock 2-1 defeat to Al-Taawoun.
Ittihad, who had won their previous six games, looked set to extend their lead at the top of the table when they hosted Al-Taawoun, who are languishing in ninth place. However, they were stunned by two goals from Fahd Al - Rashidi, who scored in the 28th and 64th minutes to put the visitors in control. Ittihad's top scorer Abderrazak Hamdallah pulled one back in the 76th minute, but it was not enough to prevent their first loss since February.
The result means that Ittihad remains on 59 points, three ahead of Al-Nassr this season, having won 3-1 away and drawn 1-1 at home. However, with five games left to play, the title race is far from over.
Ronaldo, who has scored 12 league goals since his arrival from Juventus, expressed his optimism on Twitter after the game. He posted a photo of himself wearing an Al-Nassr shirt with the club's motto "ANA AALAMY" (I am global) in Arabic. He also added a caption that read: "We believe until the end. Come on Al-Nassr!''
Al-Nassr will have a chance to close the gap on Ittihad when they face Al-Faisaly on Thursday. The defending champions are aiming for their fourth league title in six years, while Ittihad are seeking their ninth crown and their first since 2009.
The Saudi league attracted several big names in recent years, such as former Barcelona midfielder Xavi Hernandez, who coached Al-Sadd to the title in Qatar last season, and former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, who is currently an advisor for FIFA. Ronaldo's move to Al-Nassr was seen as a major coup for the league and a boost for its global appeal.