Get all your news in one place.
100’s of premium titles.
One app.
Start reading
Daily Mirror
Daily Mirror
Daniel Orme

Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi entertain in chaotic PSG clash - 6 talking points

Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi were was at the heart of a chaotic showdown in Saudi Arabia as Paris Saint-Germain squeezed past a Saudi All-Star XI 5-4 in Riyadh on Thursday evening.

Messi got the French champions off to the perfect start as he combined with Neymar to net the opener in just the third minute. Ronaldo, making his first outing in the Middle East, responded in kind after he won and scored a penalty to net his first goal in Saudi Arabia since his move to Al-Nassr.

Despite Juan Bernat being sent off, it looked as though PSG were set to head into the break with the lead after Marquinhos tapped home from close range. Ronaldo then got himself on the scoresheet once more minutes from the break with a clinical close-range finish.

Goals continued to flow as Sergio Ramos put the French side back in front only for Jang Hyun-soo to level matters just minutes later.

Kylian Mbappe, Hugo Ekitike and the All-Stars' Anderson Talisca rounded off the scoring to secure victory on a night that initially looked like it was going to be about one man.

Here are the main talking points from the game:

Messi lands first blow

Whilst a lot of the pre-match chat was dedicated to Ronaldo and his debut in Saudi Arabia, it was World Cup winner and long-time rival Messi that struck the first blow of the game. The Argentine had the fans assembled at the King Fahd International Stadium on their feet just minutes into the clash as he managed to get on the end of a delightful chipped ball into the penalty area from Neymar.

The World Cup winner had the simple task of prodding the ball home under the advanced goalkeeper. As the ball trundled home, the roar inside the stadium was clearly noticeable.

Whilst the goal will mean little to Ronaldo's season as he attempts to lift the Saudi title, it will no doubt have angered him to see his great rival steal the early thunder on a day that has long revolved around him.

Lionel Messi gives PSG the lead in Riyadh (Getty Images)

Who was your man-of-the-match in PSG's showdown with the Saudi All Star XI? Share your suggestions in the comments below

Ronaldo responds in the perfect way

Following Messi's opener, all eyes were on Ronaldo to respond in kind and he did that and more at the King Fahd International Stadium. After being felled by former Real Madrid teammate Keylor Navas, the Portuguese veteran was the only man who was going to step up from the spot.

There was also only going to be one result as he thundered the ball home to then trigger his trademark 'SIU' celebration - the crowd in the Middle East joining in. It wasn't long before it was seen again as Ronaldo's electric start to life in his new home continued.

After getting his head to Moussa Marega's delicious cross, Ronaldo saw his header strike the base of the post. Ramos failed to deal with the ricochet before the striker powered in yet again as he gave fans exactly what they wanted to see.

Neymar fails to match GOAT tag

With Ronaldo and Messi both on the scoresheet, the task then fell to Neymar to prove that he belonged in the pantheon of the world's all-time great footballers. After all, the reason behind his record breaking move to PSG was to get out of his Argentinian teammate's shadow.

Ironically, with 'GOAT' inscribed as a sleeve sponsor, Neymar had a great chance to write his name all over the match from the spot. But he produced a miserable effort that was easily saved by Mohammed Alowais.

Again, a missed penalty in mid-season friendly might not disappoint Neymar all too much but the fact he shared the pitch with two of the world's finest footballers of all-time and failed to get anywhere near their levels might give him something to reflect on.

Neymar misses his penalty for PSG (Getty Images)

Nothing friendly about this rivalry

Despite the match having originally been billed as a friendly, there was enough tension and contentious moments to think otherwise. Firstly, Navas left his former Real Madrid teammate Ronaldo with a shining bruise on his eye with a flailing arm - a challenge that saw the Saudi All Star XI awarded their penalty.

Then, Spanish defender Bernat was sent from the pitch for his last man challenge on World Cup star Salem Al-Dawsari. The calls from the referee kept coming after PSG were awarded their own spot-kick for a foul on Neymar.

Considering the pre-match pleasantries - Ronaldo sharing a jovial chat with Ramos - the game was certainly packed full of controversy.

Navas fails Saudi audition

It has been claimed over the last few days that Ronaldo is attempting to use his contacts to get a few more Europe-based footballers to make the move to Saudi Arabia. One of those names being linked is Navas.

However, any clubs interested in signing the Costa Rican goalkeeper will certainly not be convinced after what was an underwhelming appearance. He at first let the Saudi All Star XI back into the game with his foul on Ronaldo before a few misguided touches put pressure on his PSG teammates.

He also left a lot to be desired for their third goal having failed to collect a corner. Nottingham Forest have also been linked with a move for Navas following Dean Henderson's injury but they might now be forced to think twice.

Keylor Navas collides with Ronaldo to hand the Saudi All-Star XI a penalty (Getty Images)

Ronaldo continues to entertain from the bench

Much to the disappointment of supporters, Ronaldo was taken off with 20 minutes of the clash remaining but that was not the end of his contributions. Every time he flashed up on screen at the King Fahd International Stadium, he was given a huge ovation.

That response will be a huge reason as to why Al-Nassr elected to make him the highest paid footballer in the world following his exit from Manchester United. The huge appeal behind the Portuguese and his brand is a dream for the commercial partners over in the Gulf state.

Whilst Ronaldo's work on the pitch will only serve to benefit Al-Nassr - should he continue his hot start - his contributions off it might well be even more lucrative and beneficial.

Sign up to read this article
Read news from 100’s of titles, curated specifically for you.
Already a member? Sign in here
Related Stories
Top stories on inkl right now
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
Already a member? Sign in here
Our Picks
Fourteen days free
Download the app
One app. One membership.
100+ trusted global sources.