From a Messi hug to a brace: Breaking down Cristiano Ronaldo's debut in Saudi Arabia All-Star friendly vs PSG

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Ronaldo celebrate saudi friendly goal
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Cristiano Ronaldo scored twice, got punched in the face once and completed abundant step-overs for the Riyadh All-Stars on Thursday against PSG.

There it was. The jump, the spin, the landing, the noise echoing around a stadium.

The iconic Ronaldo celebration, a sequence of events likely to be seen many more times as he suits up for Al-Nassr. This one maybe just a little sweeter with Messi still on the pitch.

Ronaldo scored twice in his Saudi debut during a chaotic friendly between the Riyadh All-Star XI and Paris Saint-Germain, which the French club won 5-4. Although both teams fielded full-strength lineups, the thousands of eyes in the stadium were always going to be on Ronaldo and Messi.

Ronaldo did his part, taking his two goals well, and there was the familiar bag of tricks, as well as some perhaps over-the-top antics. It all amounted to what can be considered a vintage late-career Ronaldo performance.

GOAL takes a look at five of the best moments from Ronaldo's outing...

  1. A hug for Messi before kick-off

    The rivalry between Messi and Ronaldo is soaked in mythology. They don't comment on each other much, but there tends to be a mutual sporting respect. And although Ronaldo commented that they "might have dinner together someday" at the Ballon d'Or ceremony in 2019, the two don't appear to be particularly close.

    It was nice, then, to see two of football's greatest-ever players share a smile and hug before kick-off. Messi, of course, had more to be happy about in the early goings, as he finished off a lovely PSG move inside three minutes, handing his team a 1-0 lead.

    Ronaldo would answer later, though.

    CR7 was also friendly with former Real Madrid team-mate Sergio Ramos, the two pictured laughing in the tunnel, and Kylian Mbappe, the young PSG forward who idolised him.

  2. Fancy flicks
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    Fancy flicks

    Ronaldo has never really needed an excuse to try something special.

    And the fancy flicks were out early and often Thursday afternoon. There was a nutmeg of Carlos Soler. There was a no-look backheel. There were too many step-overs to count, and an extra five or six drag-backs.

    It was all very Ronaldo, though. Therein lies the appeal of the Portuguese as he advances into his late 30s. He no longer runs as much as he did in the past, nor does he even make the best on-ball decisions. But he's an excellent showman. That was clear from the first minute Thursday.

    And in this friendly, there was something a little bit charming about it all.

  3. His favourite spot

    His favourite spot

    You couldn't write it.

    For all of the jibes and banter, there is a sliver of truth to the "Penaldo" jab. He does love the penalty spot. The forward has now scored 147 penalties in club football. Inevitably, he buried one on Thursday. It was a wonderfully taken strike, driven hard to Keylor Navas's left and giving the Costa Rican keeper no chance.

    To his credit, Ronaldo also won the penalty, rising to meet a looping cross before being accidentally punched in the face by Navas. And he can't be faulted for taking his chance, either. But that he buried his goal from the spot is just vintage Ronaldo.

  4. A calm finish for the brace
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    A calm finish for the brace

    One goal was perhaps inevitable. A second, not so much. There was nothing particularly fancy about Ronaldo's second. It was more efficient. He rose for a header, which dinked off the post before falling right back to the Portuguese's feet from a workable angle. With one swipe of the left foot, he sent it into an open net.

    That strike brought his team level, locking the contest at 2-2 before half-time. It made things interesting, too. PSG were down to 10 men after Juan Bernat was sent off for hacking Salem Al Dawsari down as he ran through on goal.

    While PSG had created a flurry of chances, and looked dangerous on the break, Riyadh All-Stars had a real chance of taking something from the high-profile friendly.

  5. MOTM in defeat
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    MOTM in defeat

    On a night of definites, this was perhaps always the most likely to happen. Ronaldo is the new star of Saudi Arabia, and almost had to be treated as such. He certainly helped his case for winning man of the match; two goals across 60 minutes is nothing to be sniffed at. There were perhaps other more deserving players on the pitch. Korean centre-back Jang Hyun-soo, for example, was excellent on the night.

    Still, only one man was going to be granted his first piece of Saudi hardware. He will likely put in better performances, but this one was always going to be acknowledged.