Cristiano Ronaldo maintained his brilliant form for Al Nassr after scoring a first-half hat-trick in their convincing 3-0 win over rivals Damac in the Saudi Pro League on Saturday.
He gave the visitors the lead in the 18th minute with a superbly placed penalty strike that sent goalkeeper Moustapha Zeghba the wrong way. The five-time Ballon d’Or winner rifled in a left-footed rocket from outside the 18-yard box five minutes later for his second of the game.
Shortly before halftime, Ronaldo—who also had two assists in his previous game—ran nearly the whole length of the field to latch onto a pass from teammate Ayman Yahya and complete his hat trick.
Earlier this month, the Portuguese forward scored four times in a 4-0 victory over Al-Wehda, which included his 500th league goal.
Ronaldo’s contract with Manchester United was terminated last year following an explosive and unsanctioned interview with Piers Morgan in which the forward said he “felt betrayed” by the Old Trafford club and did not respect their Dutch manager Erik ten Hag.
The striker, however, signed a lucrative $175 million per year contract with Al-Nassr just over a month after his painful departure.
The 38-year-old who initially seemed to be struggling at his new side has now registered eight goals in just six appearances for the club – scoring seven times and having two assists in his last three games.
Al-Nassr are now two points clear at the top of the table ahead of second-placed Al-lttihad, thanks to Ronaldo’s hat-trick on Saturday.
Is a move to Europe still possible for Ronaldo?
The forward certainly seems to be happier playing out in Riyadh, but Al-Nassr’s coach, Rudi Garcia believes that Ronaldo will return to Europe.
“Cristiano Ronaldo is a positive addition, as he helps to disperse defenders,” Garcia said. “He is one of the best players in the world.
“He will not finish his career at Al-Nassr, he will return to Europe.”
Al-Nassr defender and former Bayern Munich star Luiz Gustavo recently told RT Arabic that Cristiano Ronaldo’s presence in the league makes it more competitive and motivates everyone.
“The presence of Cristiano Ronaldo gives his rivals more incentive to beat the league leaders,” he said.
“Cristiano motivates everyone. His presence guarantees a great advantage to our group because we learn from him every day, given the great technical and physical qualities he possesses. Cristiano Ronaldo was created for challenges, and he always succeeds.