Cristiano Ronaldo propelled Al-Nassr to a triumphant victory against Al-Ahli.

Cristiano Ronaldo propelled Al-Nassr to a triumphant victory against Al-Ahli.

A bustling crowd at the King Abdullah Stadium witnessed a tightly contested match between these two football giants from Jeddah and Riyadh. Ultimately, Al-Nassr secured a crucial win, a relief following their exit from the Asian Champions League earlier in the week and recent setbacks in the league, which allowed Al-Hilal to widen their lead to double digits at the top. The team also celebrated their first clean sheet in ten league games.

Although not the most thrilling encounter, the first half saw minimal goal-scoring opportunities, with just two attempts, none on target, in the entire 45 minutes plus added time.

Improved defense from Al-Nassr, who had been conceding goals frequently in both domestic and international competitions lately, played a significant role. Notably, Alex Telles' intervention denied Riyad Mahrez a clear shot from close range early in the game.

Despite dominating possession, Al-Nassr struggled to convert their chances into goals. Just before halftime, the hosts came close to scoring as Merih Demiral's header from Mahrez's corner struck the crossbar.

However, Al-Nassr's breakthrough came four minutes before halftime when Ronaldo capitalized on a defensive error. Though initially ruled a goal, VAR determined Ronaldo was marginally offside when receiving Sadio Mane's pass, thus nullifying the goal and Al-Nassr's first attempt.

Shortly after halftime, Ronaldo found himself through on goal but was denied by goalkeeper Edouard Mendy's save.

With Al-Nassr showing more urgency in the second half, Al-Ahli thought they had scored through Roberto Firmino, only for VAR to disallow the goal for offside.

VAR finally intervened to award Al-Nassr a penalty midway through the second half, which Ronaldo confidently converted, adding to his spot-kick prowess demonstrated earlier in the week.

Despite Al-Ahli's efforts to equalize, Al-Nassr's resolute defense held firm. The team looked dangerous on the attack, with Marcelo Brozovic going close from outside the box after a setup from Ronaldo.

As the match extended into extra time, Al-Nassr held on for the much-needed victory. While the win doesn't drastically alter the title race, with Al-Hilal having the chance to extend their lead, coach Luis Castro will undoubtedly find some relief in the result.

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