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HomeSportsRonaldo’s Al-Nassr loses first leg of Asian Champions League quarterfinal

Ronaldo’s Al-Nassr loses first leg of Asian Champions League quarterfinal

Cristiano Ronaldo came under heavy criticism after seemingly making an offensive gesture following Al Nassr’s 3-2 victory over Al Shabab in a Saudi Pro League match.
| Photo Credit: AP

Cristiano Ronaldo returned from suspension and could not prevent Al-Nassr from losing to Al-Ain 1-0 in the first leg of their Asian Champions League quarterfinal on March 4.

A first half goal from Moroccan forward Soufiane Rahimi was enough for one-time champion Al-Ain to have the advantage in the return leg in Riyadh next Monday.

Ronaldo was fresh after missing a Saudi Pro League match on Thursday as punishment for making an alleged offensive gesture during the previous game against Al-Shabab.

Video appeared to show Ronaldo cupping his ear and repeatedly thrusting his hand forward near his pelvis in a gesture that seemed to be aimed at Al-Shabab fans who were chanting the name of Lionel Messi, Ronaldo’s longstanding soccer rival.

Al-Ain’s fans did the same but were almost silenced in the sixth minute when Ronaldo went close with an overhead kick. In the final moments, he attempted a lob from the halfway line that was just wide of the post. Another shot from close range was saved by Al-Ain goalkeeper Khalid Eisa.

It could have been worse for Al-Nassr as Al-Ain, coached by former Argentine striker Hernan Crespo, had two goals disallowed for offside.

The game ended with Al-Nassr down a man after Aymeric Laporte was sent off in stoppage time for violent conduct. The former Manchester City defender will miss the second leg.

“We are only halfway through, and while going to the next round is going to be difficult, we still have 90 minutes at home,” Al-Nassr coach Luis Castro said.

The winner of the tie is guaranteed a semifinal against Saudi opposition. Al-Ittihad and Al-Hilal meet on Tuesday in the second quarterfinal in the western zone — the tournament is divided into two geographic halves until the final.

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