Ronaldo's Return Not Enough as Al-Nassr Fall to Al-Ain in ACL

Ronaldo’s Return Not Enough as Al-Nassr Fall to Al-Ain in ACL

Cristiano Ronaldo’s return from suspension could not prevent Al-Nassr from suffering a 1-0 defeat to Al-Ain in the first leg of their Asian Champions League quarterfinal on Monday.

A first-half goal from Moroccan forward Soufiane Rahimi proved decisive for Al-Ain, who will take a slender advantage into the return leg in Riyadh next Monday.

Ronaldo, who missed Al-Nassr’s previous Saudi Pro League match as punishment for an alleged offensive gesture, was unable to inspire his team to victory.

Despite going close with an overhead kick in the early stages, Ronaldo was largely kept quiet by the Al-Ain defense. He attempted a spectacular lob from the halfway line in the closing moments, but it sailed just wide of the post.

Al-Ain, coached by former Argentine striker Hernan Crespo, had two goals ruled out for offside, while Al-Nassr finished the game with 10 men after Aymeric Laporte was sent off for violent conduct in stoppage time.

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

The winner of the tie will face Saudi opposition in the semifinals, with Al-Ittihad and Al-Hilal set to meet in the other quarterfinal in the western zone on Tuesday.