Cristiano Ronaldo crashes out! Portugese forward’s late spot-kick not enough as Al-Nassr exit AFC Champions League on penalties following insane seven-goal thriller against Al-Ain

Cristiano Ronaldo‘s late efforts were not enough to save Al-Nassr, who were eliminated from the AFC Champions League by Al-Ain on penalties.

Cristiano Ronaldo Al-Nassr Al-Ain

At 1-0 down on aggregate and with home advantage on their side, the onus was on Al-Nassr to make a strong start in front of an expectant crowd. But the hosts were haunted by a familiar face in the first-half, with Soufiane Rahimi adding to his decisive goal in the first leg by scoring a scintillating first-half brace.

Three goals down on aggregate mere minutes from the break, the writing appeared to be on the wall – until Abdulrahman Ghareeb‘s effort in first-half stoppage time gave Al-Nassr life. The 26-year-old winger turned home from close range after Sadio Mane had capitalised on some bizarre decision-making from Al-Ain ‘keeper Khalid Eisa.

Hope turned into optimism in the second half when Otavio helped make it 2-2. Eisa was again at fault as he somehow managed to turn the ball into his own net from a tight angle from the Portugese’s shot.

Al-Nassr pushed late in regulation time and should have gone ahead earlier than they did. Another mistake from Eisa saw him spill the ball directly into Cristiano Ronaldo’s path mere yards from goal, but the Portuguese somehow fired wide. His blushes were spared moments later when Alex Telles’ cross-cum-shot from a free-kick bamboozled Eisa, who again didn’t cover himself in glory as Al-Nassr made it 3-2 to take it to extra time.

The home side’s efforts to push for a winner turned on its head when substitute Ayman Ahmed was sent off for a rash challenge following a VAR review. Mere minutes later Al-Ain scored again through Al Shamsi, but this time it was Al-Nassr ‘keeper Raghed Najjar who was at fault. He clawed at a tame cross and fumbled it onto his own bar, leaving an easy tap-in for the substitute.

The topsy-turvy tie wasn’t done there, though. Ronaldo finally had his say, scoring a penalty in the 118th minute to make it 4-3 on the night and send the game to a shoot-out. However, those efforts weren’t enough as Otavio missed the vital spot-kick, as Al-Ain progressed 3-1 on penalties.

Monday’s defeat means Al-Nassr are knocked out of the AFC Champions League at the quarter-final stage for the first time since 2018-19.

Soufiane Rahimi Al-Ain

While Otavio missed the crucial kick, this was Rahimi‘s match – and tie. The Moroccan forward scored the vital goal in the first leg and his brace in the second should have put Al-Ain in cruise control headed to the semi-finals. But Eisa’s errors proved costly and the away side had to do it the hard way, as Rahimi’s fine individual efforts were cancelled out as Al-Nassr nearly completed a memorable comeback.

With eight goals to his name in the competition – one behind Ronaldo after his late effort on Monday night – Rahimi has emerged as one of the AFC Champions League’s standout performers this term.

What a horrible night for the goalkeepers. Ronaldo’s miss was a dreadful one but it was handed to him on a plate by Eisa, who had a game to forget for Al-Ain. He rushed out of his goal for no apparent reason for Al-Nassr’s first, leaving himself horribly out of position, before turning home a completely misdirected shot by Otavio for a dreadful own-goal. Eisa also should have reacted quicker for Telles’ strike for Al-Nassr’s third, even if it was well hit through a crowd of players.

That said, Eisa was ultimately let off the hook – unlike Najjar. The Al-Nassr goalkeeper made some good saves in the match but choked at the crucial moment. He snatched at a seemingly harmless cross in extra time and was unfortunate for it to bounce kindly off the bar into Al Shamsi’s path. Not one he’ll want to see back, and he couldn’t make amends in the penalty shoot-out.

Cristiano Ronaldo Al-Nassr frustrated

After a hotly-contested battle on Monday which sees Al-Ain progress by the narrowest of margins, Al-Nassr travel to Al-Ahli Saudi in a Pro League fixture on Friday. Ronaldo’s side are currently 12 points off leaders Al-Hilal after 23 matches.



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