On Thursday, Sadio Mane played his debut game in Al-Nassr colours, but Cristiano Ronaldo made headlines by scoring a critical late goal in his trademark forceful style.
Sadio Mane was drastically demoted to a mere supporting role on his debut as Al-Nassr advanced to the quarterfinals of the Arab Club Champions Cup thanks to a dramatic late equalise from Cristiano Ronaldo.
Mane left Bayern Munich earlier this week to join Cristiano Ronaldo in Saudi Arabia, and on Thursday, his new team’s manager, Luis Castro, chose him as a replacement for their matchup against Egyptian side Zamalek. In their third and final Group C match, Al-Nassr fell behind to a penalty in the 53rd minute after the ex-Liverpool player entered the fray at halftime.
But in the 87th minute, Ronaldo accomplished what Mane couldn’t: he found space in the penalty area and expertly headed Konan’s precise cross into the back of the net. Due to the goal, Al-Nassr, who had a perfect record, finished as runners-up to Al-Shabab in their group and will take on Raja Casablanca on Sunday.
After the game, Mane joyfully posted on Instagram, thanking his 38-year-old teammate for his heroics: “Une nouvelle page s’ouvre [a new page opens]!!! Congratulations on scoring, Big Man @cristiano! The next round is now. Thank you to @alnassr fans for their incredible support.
Prior to the start of the 2018 Saudi Pro League season, Ronaldo is starting to find his form after scoring the 840th goal of his remarkable career. The five-time Ballon d’Or winner has scored twice in as many starts in the Arab Club Champions Cup and also scored the decisive goal that lifted Portugal past Iceland in the summer to victory in their away match for Euro 2024 qualification.
In support of his goals, Ronaldo now has a much stronger club team after making his 200th appearance for his country. Al-Nassr have added Mane, Inter Milan midfielder Marcelo Brozovic, Lens’ Seko Fofana, and Manchester United defender Alex Telles to their roster to improve their title hopes as Saudi teams make a run at the European transfer market.
After a painful breakup with Liverpool, where he spent six years under Jurgen Klopp, Mane, 31, only stayed with Bayern for one season. Injury interrupted his career after a promising beginning in Munich, and the Senegal international was compelled to skip the World Cup.
Then, Mane’s time in Bavaria came to an end after a public altercation with teammate Leroy Sane. Following the transfer, Bayern CEO Jan-Christian Dreesen said, “We want to thank Sadio Mane for the past season.”
He suffered an injury right before the World Cup and was unable to play for Senegal, who he had earlier coached to their first Africa Cup of Nations victory and World Cup qualifying. It has undoubtedly not been an easy year for him.He wasn’t able to help FC Bayern as much as we and he had hoped because of the protracted downtime. Due to this, we both agreed that he should begin a new chapter in his career by joining a different club.
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