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Evening Standard
Evening Standard
Marc Mayo

PSG 5-4 Saudi All-Stars: Cristiano Ronaldo hits brace but beaten by Lionel Messi’s side in friendly

Cristiano Ronaldo scored twice on his long-awaited debut in Saudi Arabian football as his Riyadh All-Star side were beaten 5-4 by Lionel Messi’s Paris Saint-Germain in a friendly.

The game was not even three minutes old when Messi darted in behind from Neymar’s smart ball over the top to coolly slot home the opener.

PSG looked a step above their hosts, who were made up of Al-Hilal and Al-Nassr’s best available players, yet some determined defending made a game of it.

After 34 minutes, Ronaldo and goalkeeper Keylor Navas collided going for a high ball which neither appeared to make contact with and yet a penalty was awarded, which the veteran drilled home.

Les Parisiens were reduced to ten men when Juan Bernat committed a last-man foul on Salem Al-Dawsari which left little option but for a red card to be produced.

However, PSG went ahead moments later through Marquinhos’ close-range finish and their advantage should have been doubled in first-half stoppage time. Neymar went down to win a dubious penalty via VAR, which he proceeded to tamely shoot straight at Mohammed Al Owais’ simple dive.

The half continued through to its sixth minute of added-on time - after a minimum of three were promised - which provided enough time for Ronaldo, complete with black eye after his early clattering, to hit the post and steer home the rebound for 2-2.

The second half saw the high energy levels maintained with Mbappe in particular looking dangerous, darting down to the byline after 53 minutes to square for Sergio Ramos’ tap-in.

Instantly, the Riyadh side hit back through Jang Hyun-soo’s smart header from a corner whipped into the near post.

The pace continued when Messi’s shot was handled in the box for arguably the first convincing penalty award of the night - which was slammed home by Mbappe for 4-3.

That brought up the hour mark and messrs Ronaldo, Neymar, Mbappe and Messi all departed the stage to standing ovations from a thoroughly entertained crowd.

There was plenty more action to be had from the ten men of PSG, now made up largely of kids and reserve players, as Hugo Ekitike burst forward to create some breathing space with ten minutes left, meaning Anderson Talisca’s fiery finish from range was a mere consolation.

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