Sadio Mane sends Cristiano Ronaldo message after stealing show on Al-Nassr debut

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Sadio Mane sends Cristiano Ronaldo message after stealing show on Al-Nassr debut
Sadio Mane sends Cristiano Ronaldo message after stealing show on Al-Nassr debut

Cristiano Ronaldo powered home a late equaliser to dramatically send Al-Nassr through to the Arab Club Champions Cup quarter-finals and relegate Sadio Mane to a mere supporting role on his debut.

Mane quit Bayern Munich earlier this week to join Ronaldo in Saudi Arabia and on Thursday was named as a substitute by manager Luis Castro for his new team's clash with Egyptian side Zamalek. Having entered the fray at half-time, the ex-Liverpool star was unable to draw Al-Nassr level after they went behind to a 53rd-minute penalty in their third and final Group C fixture.

But in the 87th minute Ronaldo did what Mane couldn't, finding space in the penalty area to neatly head home left-back Konan's pinpoint cross. The goal meant that unbeaten Al-Nassr qualified as runners-up to Al-Shabab in their group and will face Moroccon side Raja Casablanca in the quarter-finals on Sunday.

Mane thanked his 38-year-old team-mate for his heroics, gleefully posting on Instagram after the match: "Une nouvelle page s’ouvre [a new page opens]!!! Congrats for your goal big Man @cristiano!!! On to the next round. Thanks @alnassr fans the support was amazing."

Ronaldo's equaliser was the 840th goal of his incredible career and he's beginning to find his form ahead of the new Saudi Pro League campaign. The five-time Ballon d'Or winner now boasts two goals in as many starts in the Arab Club Champions Cup, having also netted a vital winning goal for Portugal over the summer to beat Iceland away from home during Euro 2024 qualification.

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It marked his 200th international appearance and now Ronaldo has a much stronger team at club level to support his ambitions. With Saudi clubs making an assault on the European transfer market, Al-Nassr have recruited Mane, Inter Milan midfielder Marcelo Brozovic, Lens' Seko Fofana and Manchester United defender Alex Telles to bolster their title chances.

Have your say! Has Sadio Mane made the right decision to join Al-Nassr? Let us know in the comments section.

Mane, 31, had only spent one season with Bayern following his emotional departure from Liverpool, where he'd enjoyed six years under Jurgen Klopp. After a promising start to life in Munich, injury derailed his campaign and the Senegal international was forced to miss the World Cup.

Then came a high-profile bust-up with team-mate Leroy Sane, marking the beginning of the end for Mane in Bavaria. "We want to thank Sadio Mane for the past season," Bayern CEO Jan-Christian Dreesen said following the transfer move.

"It certainly hasn't been an easy year for him, suffering an injury just before the World Cup and missing out on participation with Senegal, whom he had earlier led to their maiden Africa Cup of Nations triumph and World Cup qualification.

"Due to the long downtime, he wasn't able to contribute as much to FC Bayern as we and he himself had hoped. That's why we decided together that he should start a new chapter in his career and make a fresh start at another club."

Nathan Ridley

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