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Cristiano Ronaldo: Al Nassr v Al Hilal King’s Cup agony for striker

Al Nassr were one penalty kick away from triumphing against opponents who had two men sent off

Cristiano Ronaldo playing football for Al Nassr

Cristiano Ronaldo hit a post and missed out on a first domestic trophy with Al Nassr by the finest of margins as the Saudi Pro League side lost the 2024 King’s Cup final 5-4 on penalties to nine-man Al Hilal following a 1-1 draw after extra time in Jeddah.

Al Nassr, who also had a man sent off, would have won had Ali Al Hassan converted his spot kick in the shoot-out, only for Morocco goalkeeper Yassine Bounou to save the Saudi Arabia midfielder’s effort.

After Salem Aldawsari scored his subsequent penalty, Bounou stopped Meshari Al-Nemer’s strike to land top-flight champions Al Hilal a treble.

Former Fulham and Newcastle United striker Aleksandar Mitrovic had pounced to nod in the opening goal in the seventh minute at King Abdullah Sports City, but Ayman Yahya headed the equaliser from a long throw-in two minutes from the end of regular time.

Al Nassr’s nemeses returned to haunt them for one last time this season as Al Hilal sealed another trophy, having beaten Ronaldo’s team on their way to winning the Saudi Super Cup in April and finished 12 points above them in the league.

The unbeaten victors secured a successful defence of the King’s Cup, triumphing for an 11th time and surviving Ronaldo finding the woodwork with an acrobatic attempt two minutes after the break.

King’s Cup final: Goals, red cards, penalties

Al Nassr were hampered by the dismissal of David Ospina 11 minutes later when the ex-Napoli and Arsenal goalkeeper handled the ball outside of his penalty area.

Former Liverpool forward Sadio Mane was swiftly sacrificed to allow substitute goalkeeper Waleed Abdullah to come on.

Ospina had been attempting to stop Malcom, who had set up Mitrovic’s goal, from breaking free to score a second for Al Hilal.

Serbia hitman Mitrovic, who is in his first season in Saudi Arabia, could have made it 2-0 late on but sent a one-on-one opportunity wide of a post.

Al Hilal rued that miss when Ali Albulayhi was sent off for headbutting Sami Al-Najei in the 87th minute in an act which had the notoriously provocative defender’s own team-mate’s remonstrating with him.

After Yahya levelled, Al Hilal lost both of their centre-backs when former Chelsea player Kalidou Koulibaly saw red for a challenge on Abdullah a minute into second-half added time.

Having made it through another 30 minutes, Al Hilal missed their first penalty of the shoot-out when Ruben Neves sent his shot wide, only for Alex Telles to immediately direct his over the crossbar for Al Nassr.

Ronaldo duly scored, as did Mitrovic โ€“ the only player to come close to Ronaldo’s remarkable total of 35 goals in 34 league matches, scoring 28 times.

Abdullah saved Saud Abdulhamid’s penalty to put Al Nassr on the brink of glory but Al Hassan could not capitalise, Al Nemer following suit to settle an extraordinary decider.

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Ben Miller

Ben has more than 10 years' experience in sports journalism, covering two EURO tournaments, European club competitions, the Premier League, EFL and WSL and a variety of other major sporting events.

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