Ronaldo faces 2-game ban after red card for elbowing opponent in Saudi Super Cup semifinals

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Cristiano Ronaldo is facing a two-game suspension after receiving his first red card in Saudi Arabia for elbowing an opponent as Al-Nassr lost 2-1 to Al-Hilal in the Saudi Super Cup semifinals.

The five-time Ballon D’Or winner, who signed for Al-Nassr in December 2022, was dismissed in the 86th minute for striking Al-Hilal defender Ali Al-Bulaihi. According to media reports in Saudi Arabia, the 39-year-old soccer great may receive further punishment after seeming to mock the referee as he left the field in Abu Dhabi on Monday.

“I’m not going to take credit away from Ronaldo,” Al-Hilal coach Jorge Jesus said about his Portuguese compatriot. “He’s still very strong, he always has been and will continue to be the most important player in the world, he’s an example and a model.

“But he’s not used to losing in his career, so it is natural for him to lose his head when he loses, as well as for him to lose emotional and mental focus in defeats.”

At the time of Ronaldo’s dismissal, Al-Nassr was losing 2-0 after Salem Al-Dawsari and Brazilian winger Malcom struck to put Al-Hilal in control.

Senegalese international Sadio Mane pulled a goal back deep into added time but Hilal hung on to move into the final against Al-Ittihad in Abu Dhabi on Thursday.

In 2023, the tournament was expanded from a one-off game between the league champion and King’s Cup winner to include the runners-up from both competitions.

While it is Ronaldo’s first red card, he received a one-game suspension in February for making an alleged offensive gesture during a Saudi Pro League game against Al-Shabab.

The former Real Madrid and Manchester United star is currently top of the scoring charts in the league with 29 goals so far, seven ahead of Al-Hilal’s Aleksandar Mitrovic.

Al-Nassr is in second place in the SPL, 12 points behind Al-Hilal with seven games remaining.


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