Al-Nassr, the Saudi football powerhouse, endured a frustrating start to their 2023–24 Saudi Pro League journey as they suffered a narrow 2-1 defeat to Al-Ettifaq in an intense clash on Monday.
The match at the King Saud University Stadium saw Al-Nassr grappling with the absence of their charismatic captain, Cristiano Ronaldo. The talismanic player was sidelined due to an injury sustained during extra time in their spectacular 2-1 victory over Al Hilal in the Arab Champions Cup final, which unfolded just days prior on Saturday.
The game kicked off with Al-Nassr’s swift offensive tactics, as forward Sadio Mane swiftly netted the opening goal within the first four minutes of play. Mane’s brilliance was on display as he capitalized on a precise cut-back pass from teammate Alhassan, successfully converting the opportunity from inside the box.
However, Al-Ettifaq demonstrated their mettle by staging a spirited comeback in the second half. The equalizer arrived merely two minutes after the break when Al-Nassr’s goalkeeper Nawaf Alaqidi struggled to handle a well-placed cross, inadvertently setting up an opening for Robin Quaison to find the back of the net.
The pendulum of the match swung in favor of Al-Ettifaq when former Lyon forward Moussa Dembele secured a decisive goal just six minutes later. Dembele seized a golden opportunity from close range, sending the Al-Ettifaq fans into a frenzy.
With the absence of Ronaldo looming over them, Al-Nassr found themselves in a challenging position. The timetable for Ronaldo’s return remains uncertain, leaving the team and their fans eager for updates on his recovery progress. The loss against Al-Ettifaq serves as a stark reminder of the competitive nature of the Saudi Pro League, prompting Al-Nassr to regroup and strategize for the upcoming league matches.
Despite the opening day setback, Al-Nassr remains resolute and determined to bounce back stronger in the league campaign. As they set their sights on future matches, the return of Ronaldo will undoubtedly be a key factor in the team’s pursuit of success in the season ahead.
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