Watch: Cristiano Ronaldo sent off in meltdown before raising fist at referee

Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates - April 9, 2024 Al Nassr's Cristiano Ronaldo clashes with Al Hilal's Ali Al Bulayhi before being shown a red card by referee Mohammed Al Hoaish
Cristiano Ronaldo was sent off for this elbow on Al-Hilal's Ali Al-Bulayhi - Reuters

Cristiano Ronaldo was sent off late on as his side lost 2-1 to city rivals Al-Hilal in their Saudi Super Cup semi-final after a heated clash in Abu Dhabi on Monday.

Portugal’s record scorer and Al-Nassr captain was shown a straight red card four minutes from time for elbowing Al-Hilal’s Ali Al-Bulaihi when his side were 2-0 down before they scored a late consolation.

The clash sparked a melee, with former Chelsea defender Kalidou Koulibaly stepping in before he was pushed and ex-Manchester City defender Aymeric Laporte seen trying to calm the situation down.

Footage appeared to show Ronaldo raising his fist in the direction of the referee after a red card was brandished. Ronaldo then exited the field as he appeared to sarcastically clap the crowd.

Jorge Jesus’ Al-Hilal opened the scoring in the 62nd minute when Salem Al-Dawsari slotted the ball into the bottom right corner from a Sergej Milinkovic-Savic flick after a quick break.

Brazilian forward Malcom doubled the lead in the 72nd with a fine header after Michael’s long cross from the right found his compatriot unmarked in the centre of the box.

Former Liverpool forward Sadio Mane got Al-Nassr on the scoresheet in stoppage time off Abdulrahman Ghareeb’s pass.

Al-Hilal will seek a record-extending fourth title in Thursday’s final when they face Karim Benzema’s Al-Ittihad, who beat Al-Wehda 2-1 in the earlier semi-final on Monday.

Ronaldo’s defeat in the Super Cup is likely to prolong his wait for a trophy since his move to Saudi Arabia last year. Al-Nassr are out of the domestic cup and the Asian Champions League and are 12 points behind Al Hilal with seven games left.

Cristiano Ronaldo of Al Nassr competes during the Saudi Super Cup Semi-Final match between Al Hilal and Al Nassr at Mohamed Bin Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates on April 08, 2024
Ronaldo's stint in Saudi Arabia has so far been trophyless - Waleed Zein/Getty Images

In February, Ronaldo faced a flurry of criticism after appearing to make an obscene gesture following the end of Al-Nassr’s 3-2 win over Al-Shabab in the Saudi Pro League.

The Portugal forward opened the scoring with a 21st-minute penalty but Al-Nassr needed a late goal from Talisca, who struck twice, to settle the game with four minutes left. After the final whistle, social media videos captured Ronaldo cupping his ear before repeatedly pumping his hand forward in front of his pelvic area. The action appeared to be directed at Al-Shabab supporters.

In the background, chants of “Messi” could be heard, referencing Ronaldo’s long-term rival. The incident was not caught on television, but some Saudi pundits said Ronaldo should be sanctioned.

Messi, meanwhile, was called a “possessed dwarf” with “the face of the devil” after a bust-up inside the tunnel after his Inter Miami side had lost to Mexico’s Monterrey in the Concacaf Champions Cup last week.

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