Cristiano Ronaldo finally announced himself in the Saudi Pro League with four goals for Al-Nassr on Thursday night, reaching a phenomenal personal milestone in the process.
The veteran striker, 38, only managed one goal - a last-gasp penalty - in his first three competitive appearances for the club he joined at the end of December. But he roared back to form against Al-Wehda, scoring in the 21st, 40th, 53rd and 61st minutes to reach then surpass 500 career league goals.
The Portugal captain's first goal was a powerful, left-footed finish across the goalkeeper after he was played in down the channel. Ronaldo showed his poacher's instincts to score his second, too, as he raced in-behind to latch onto a through-ball and finish under Abdulquddus Atiah.
His third came early in the second half, when he made no mistake from the penalty spot, and a fourth was added just after the hour mark to reach 503 league goals after the goalkeeper could only paw his tame shot back into his path to slide the ball into the empty net.
Ronaldo's goals set Al-Nassr on a path to a much-needed victory as they push for another league title. The Middle Eastern giants have endured a patch of mixed form since signing the superstar on a contract worth £173million per year.
They drew two of their last three league games ahead of the fixture against Al-Wehda and were knocked out of the Saudi Super Cup by Al-Ittihad, depriving Ronaldo of a shot at an early piece of silverware. These results invited Al-Shabab back into the title race, but Ronaldo's goals on Thursday night saw Al-Nassr leapfrog their rivals, over whom they also have a game in hand.
Of his breathtaking 503 career league goals, just three came in the Primeira Liga for Sporting Lisbon, the club where he burst onto the scene as a teenager in the early 200s. 84 came in the Premier League during his first stint at Manchester United, before he joined Real Madrid in 2009 in what was a world-record £80m transfer.
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The five-time Ballon d'Or winner would go on to plunder 311 goals in just 292 La Liga games - and he was almost as prolific for Juventus, whom he joined in 2018. Ronaldo scored 81 Serie A goals in 98 appearances for the Turin giants before returning to United in 2021.
Things went well during his first season back in the Premier League, as Ronaldo scored an impressive 18 goals in 30 appearances during a challenging season for the Red Devils. However, he managed just one goal in the first half of this season and his contract was terminated in November after his explosive interview with Piers Morgan.
Ronaldo's four goals against Al-Wehda means he has scored five goals in his first three Saudi Pro League appearances. His overall tally of 503 means he is only behind Pele (604), Romario (544), Josef Bican (518) and Ferenc Puskas (514) on the all-time list of league goalscorers.