Cristiano Ronaldo’s first season in Saudi Arabia will end without a trophy as his Al-Nassr team were defeated by Al-Ittihad in the penultimate round on Saturday.
Ronaldo arrived in Riyadh in January after being released by the English Premier League with strongman Manchester United and had to settle for second place in the Saudi Arabia 16-team league. Al-Nassr’s 1-1 draw with Ettifaq meant that Al-Ittihad’s 3-0 win over Al-Feiha gave Jeddah a five-point lead with one game left and won their first league title since. 2009.
Al-Nassr dominated the eastern city of Dammam but fell behind just before halftime when Youssef Niakate scored for Ettifaq from close range. A dangerous shot from former Bayern Munich midfielder Luiz Gustavo leveled the score for Al-Nassr in the 56th minute.
Ronaldo has scored 14 goals in 16 league games since his debut in January, but failed to score the winning goal this time around and Gustavo had a second-half strike that was ruled out for offside during the match. 10 minutes left to play.
Al-Ittihad won easily thanks to two goals from Brazilian striker Romarinho as well as a third-minute strike from Ahmed Sharahili. The team, led by former Wolverhampton and Tottenham manager Nuno Espirito Santo, won their ninth league title overall.
“I want to thank the players and fans for their support this season and everyone worked so hard from the start,” Santo said. “The early goal was important and after we scored we were settled.”
Defending champions Al-Hilal moved up to third place with a 3-0 win over Abha.