The Al Nassr team of Cristiano Ronaldo advanced to the Asian Champions League group stage on Tuesday in Riyadh after defeating Shabab Al Ahli in extra time.
In the play-off at Mrsool Park, the Saudi Pro League team overcame a 2-0 deficit to win 4-2 thanks to goals from Brazilian Anderson Talisca twice and Croatian international Marcelo Brozovic. Nassr was only two minutes away from losing the competition.
As a result, Nassr, who finished second domestically the previous season, will continue into the group phase, which starts the following month. After joining the Riyadh club in December, five-time UEFA Champions League champion Ronaldo was making his debut in Asian football’s premier club championship.
On minute 11, Taslica headed in a Brozovic corner to give Nassr the lead. Seven minutes later, Yahya Al Ghassani, a winger for UAE champions Shabab Al Ahli, equalized for the Dubai team after they had responded.
At halftime, Ronaldo, 38, left the field clearly angry and was spotted shouting with the referee. The Portuguese star and captain of Nassr thought he ought to have been awarded two penalties in the opening period.
Once Al Ghassani had gotten past the Nassr defense and was in the open, he flicked the ball over Nawaf Al Aqidi to put Shabab Al Ahli in ahead.
With two minutes remaining in regulation, Walid Abbas’ deflection of fullback Sultan Al Ghannam’s header into his own goal gave Nassr the equalizer.
Five minutes into the allowed seven minutes of added time, Talisca nodded home from close range to seal Nassr’s comeback. Later, as Shabab Al Ahli searched for the tying goal, Ronaldo set up Brozovic to score and seal the victory.
Additionally in the west zone, UAE team Sharjah advanced to the main competition with a 3-1 victory away to Iran’s Tractor FC, and Navbahor Namangan of Uzbekistan defeated Al Wakrah of Qatar 1-0 in extra time.
The Uzbek team AGMK Olmaliq defeated Qatar’s Al Arabi 1-0 in the other play-off on Tuesday.