Cristiano Ronaldo’s substitution with 13 minutes remaining after an earlier clash with Persepolis custodian Alireza Beiranvand also considerably muted Al Nassr‘s celebrations.
On Monday, Cristiano Ronaldo’s Al Nassr team earned a 0-0 draw against Iran’s Persepolis at home to secure their spot in the AFC Champions League knockout stages. Prior to the match in Riyadh, the Saudi Arabian team had won all four of their Group E games; therefore, all they needed to advance to the round of sixteen was a point at Al Awwal Park.
Even though Nassr used ten men for the whole of the game, they still managed to win.
Ronaldo’s withdrawal with 13 minutes remaining after a previous collision with Persepolis custodian Alireza Beiranvand also slightly muted their jubilation.
The match began at four minutes when Nassr’s penalty claim was turned down because it appeared that Ronaldo had been tripped in the visiting team’s area. The Portugal attacker, however, acknowledged to the referee that it was not a foul, and the official upheld the ruling after referring to VAR.
Shortly after, on minute 17, Ali Lajami received a straight red card for dragging his studs down Milad Sarlak’s shin, which made things worse for the hosts.
The second half saw a goal disallowed for Persepolis, the two-time runners-up, and Ronaldo spun swiftly inside the Persepolis penalty area but missed with his low attempt.
The 38-year-old captain of Nassr seemed to suffer a neck injury early in the second half when Beiranvand collided with him while attempting to recover a high ball.
Ronaldo was taken off the pitch at minute 77, looking to be uncomfortable.
On Friday, AI Nassr and Al Hilal will square off in a top-of-the-table Saudi Pro League match.
In the other game of the group, Al Duhail defeated Tajikistan’s Istiklol 2-0 at home to record their first victory of the season.
Group C winners Al Ittihad of Saudi Arabia defeated AGMK FC of Uzbekistan 2-1 to avenge their round-four loss.
Before Martin Baokye gave the home team a late goal with 12 minutes left, Moroccan Abderrazzaq Hamdallah had struck twice in the first half.
With this victory, two-time winners Ittihad, who are leading the rankings going into their home match against Sepahan in second place next week, are led by new manager Marcelo Gallardo, who is making his Asian Champions League debut.
Despite having two players sent off, the Iranians overcame Air Force Club 1-0 on Monday at Azadi Stadium to close the gap on Ittihad to two points.
In the meantime, Group B is still wide open as Qatar’s Al Sadd upset Sharjah 2-0 in the United Arab Emirates, and Uzbekistan’s Nasaf Qarshi downed Jordan’s Al Faisaly 3-1 at home.
With ten points, Nasaf leads the pack ahead of their last game the following week against Al Sadd, who are in third place with seven points. Rahul is in second place with eight points.
The group round lasts until mid-December and is back to a home-and-away format this year for the first time since early 2020. The top six teams in each pool and the top 10 teams in each pool advance to the knockout stages, which begin in February.
In May, there are two legs to the final.