Ronaldo's Al-Nassr Ousted from Asian Champions League in Penalty Shootout

Ronaldo’s Al-Nassr Ousted from Asian Champions League in Penalty Shootout

Cristiano Ronaldo’s debut in the Asian Champions League ended in disappointment as his new club, Al-Nassr, was eliminated in the quarterfinals on Monday. Despite a valiant effort in the second leg, Al-Nassr fell short in a penalty shootout against Al-Ain of the United Arab Emirates.

Ronaldo, who joined Al-Nassr in January on a lucrative contract, scored a penalty in the 118th minute to level the aggregate score at 4-4. However, he was the only home player to convert in the shootout, as Al-Ain prevailed 3-1.

Al-Nassr had responded to a 1-0 first-leg defeat by winning the return match 4-3 in Riyadh. Soufiane Rahimi, who scored the only goal in the first leg, gave Al-Ain a 3-0 advantage overall with two goals in the first half.

But Al-Nassr fought back, with Abdulrahman Ghareeb and an own goal from Al-Ain goalkeeper Khalid Eisa bringing the hosts level. Alex Telles then scored with 18 minutes remaining to force extra time.

Al-Ain regained the lead through Sultan Al Shamsi, but Ronaldo’s penalty kept Al-Nassr’s hopes alive. In the shootout, however, Marcelo Brozovic, Telles, and Otavio all failed to score, handing Al-Ain a place in the semifinals.

Ronaldo, who missed several chances in regulation, expressed his frustration after the match. “I’m disappointed with the result,” he said. “We had our chances, but we didn’t take them. We have to learn from this and come back stronger.”

Al-Ain will face another Saudi Arabian team, Al-Hilal, in the semifinals. Al-Hilal holds a 2-0 lead over two-time champion Al-Ittihad heading into their second leg on Tuesday.

In the eastern zone, Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors and Ulsan HD meet on Tuesday. The South Korean teams are 1-1 after the first leg. Yokohama F.Marinios of Japan has a 2-1 advantage over China’s Shandong Taishan in the other quarter.

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.

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