Cristiano Ronaldo was named Man of the Match in his all-star clash with Lionel Messi on Thursday.

By happy coincidence, the 37-year-old’s first game in Saudi Arabia also marked the 37th – and potentially final – time that he has locked horns with Messi on the same football pitch.

And while Paris Saint-Germain might have defeated the combined XI of Al-Nassr and Al-Hilal players, there’s good reason to believe that Ronaldo got the upper hand from an individual perspective.

How did Ronaldo play in all-star match vs Messi?

Not that it looked as though things were going to pan out that way, mind, because Messi actually fired the Parisians into the lead within just three minutes courtesy of a deft one-on-one finish.

However, from there on out, Ronaldo decided to put on a show at the King Fahd International Stadium and helped himself to two fine goals before the half-time break.

First off, the five-time Ballon d’Or winner won a penalty under contact from Keylor Navas, before showing typical calm from the spot and cuing an absolutely incredible ‘SIUUU’ celebration.

And then, not only to ensure that he outscored Messi on the day but also to draw level for goals in their games against each other, Ronaldo doubled his money with a ruthless close-range finish.


Having initially seen his header strike the upright, the former Manchester United striker profited from a mistake by Sergio Ramos to lash home his second goal of the night.

And it wasn’t just about the goals either because Ronaldo generally just seemed to be playing with a smile on his face for the first time in a long time, throwing caution to the wind and simply enjoying himself.

What do Ronaldo’s individual highlights show?

There were many times throughout the match where the very movement of Ronaldo seemed to be reminiscent of his first United spell: that galloping gait and fleet footwork where you know a silky skill is only seconds away.

And if you don’t believe us, then check out the proof for yourself because it hasn’t taken long for Ronaldo’s individual highlights to grace Twitter feeds around the world.

The result? Well, three minutes of pure enjoyment.

It’s by no means a perfect performance, don’t get it twisted, but seeing Ronaldo play with such freedom and enjoyment again really does start to make you feel as though his move to Saudi could be a match made in heaven.

Video: Ronaldo’s MOTM performance vs Messi and PSG

Are you getting the good vibes too? I thought so.

A lot of the touches, passes and dribbles are ultimately 5% or so off perfection, but it’s in that rawness that a happier Ronaldo seems to form and truth be told, the result from a fan’s perspective is just pure entertainment.

The demands of Europe’s top five leagues these days are such that Ronaldo does need to press, does need to track back and does need to drop deep for link-up play, but let’s face it, none of that’s what ever made us fall in love with the Portugal star.

So if his move to Saudi Arabia serves as a way to take the pressure off the final years of his career and rediscover a pure and untamed joy for the game, then we are absolutely here for it.


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