Al-Nassr knocked out of the AFC Champions League by Al Ain after Cristiano Ronaldo’s costly miss


Cristiano Ronaldo’s Al-Nassr crashed out of the AFC Champions League after a thrilling tie against Al Ain ended 4-4 on aggregate before the Emirati side triumphed on penalties.

Monday’s end-to-end game could have gone either way, though Ronaldo will likely regret his staggering miss in the second half which could have seen Al-Nassr progress to the semifinals.

“Thank you for your support,” the 39-year-old forward wrote on X, formerly Twitter, after the match. “We’ll find a way to bounce back and come back stronger! Together, always!”

After Al Ain won the first leg 1-0, the visiting team got off to a superb start in Riyadh thanks to two first-half goals from Soufiane Rahimi, whose neat finish had been the difference between the teams last week.

Al-Nassr, however, got one back right on the stroke of halftime when Al Ain goalkeeper Khalid Eisa found himself stranded outside the box, allowing Sadio Mané to pass to Abdulrahman Ghareeb for a simple finish.

Ronaldo was the only Al-Nassr player to score in the penalty shootout.

Eisa then made another error at the start of the second half as Otávio’s drilled cross deflected off his legs and into the net for an own goal.

That made it 3-2 on aggregate and Ronaldo had a glorious chance to level the tie, somehow missing the target from inside the six-yard box after Eisa’s save had deflected into his path.

Al-Nassr did get another later in the half when Alex Telles’ free-kick found its way through a crowd of bodies and couldn’t be kept out by Eisa.

As the game went to extra-time, the home side was dealt a double blow when Ayman Yahya was sent off for a reckless challenge before Sultan Al-Shamsi made it 4-3 on aggregate, tapping into the net after Raghed Al-Najjar’s save miraculously bounced off the crossbar and into his path.

Ronaldo then saw two shots saved by Eisa in quick succession, but the Portuguese forward was later brought down in the box and scored the subsequent penalty, making it 4-4 on aggregate.

Al Ain players celebrate their dramatic victory.

That sent the breathless contest to penalties, and although Ronaldo scored for Al-Nassr, Otávio, Telles and Marcelo Brozović, whose effort was saved by Eisa, all missed to give Al Ain a memorable victory.

Al Ain, chasing its first AFC Champions League title in 21 years, will next face another Saudi Arabian team – either Al-Hilal or Al-Ittihad – in the semifinals.

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