Asian Champions League: Ronaldo thanks fans and Iranian people after helping Al-Nassr script historic win
Cristiano Ronaldo made a memorable debut in the Asian Champions League, guiding Al Nassr to a significant 2-0 win against Persepolis in Iran. Ronaldo's impact, a historic Saudi club appearance in Iran, and the intriguing match details unfolded in a remarkable victory.
Cristiano Ronaldo played a pivotal role in Al Nassr's historic victory in the Asian Champions League, marking his debut with a 2-0 win over 10-man Persepolis in Iran on Tuesday night. Ronaldo, a five-time Ballon d'Or winner with five UEFA Champions League titles to his name, led the Saudi Arabian team to secure three points in Group E. The match took place at Tehran's Azadi Stadium, but it was played without spectators due to a one-game ban for Persepolis supporters dating back to 2021, upheld by the Asian Football Confederation (AFC).
This win marked the first time a Saudi club played in Iran since 2016, following a recent "ground-breaking agreement" between the two nations' football federations. Ronaldo, aged 38, had significant involvement throughout the game, coming close to scoring twice in the first half. The match turned in Nassr's favor in the second half after Persepolis midfielder Milad Sarlak received a second yellow card, resulting in his dismissal for an unintentional foul on Ronaldo.
Ronaldo played a role in Nassr's opening goal, with a shot deflected into the net off Persepolis full-back Danial Esmaeilifar. Later, Nassr's left-back Mohammed Qassem extended the lead with a powerful shot, securing the victory.
In other group matches
Al Ain won 3-0 against Pakhtakor, Ahal defeated Al Fayha 1-0, Incheon United triumphed 4-2 against Yokohama F Marinos, Shandong Taishan won 3-1 against Kaya-FC Iloilo, Ulsan Hyundai beat BG Pathum United 3-1, and Kawasaki Frontale secured a 1-0 victory against Johor Darul Ta'zim. The group stage, returning to a home-and-away format, runs until mid-December, with the top pool winners and the six best second-placed teams advancing to the knockout rounds starting in February, leading to the final in May.