Cristiano Ronaldo
Saudi signing: Cristiano Ronaldo in action at the World Cup in Qatar AFP / KARIM JAAFAR

Cristiano Ronaldo dragged himself into the middle of yet another controversy on Tuesday. The Portuguese star was frustrated after his goal was disallowed in the Saudi Pro League match between Al-Nassr and Al-Hilal at the King Fahd International Stadium. Unfortunately, Al-Hilal fans started chanting Lionel Messi's name after their team defeated Al-Nassr 2-0. The defeat to Al-Hilal meant Al-Nassr are three points behind the top spot, with table leaders Al-Ittihad still having a game in hand.

Ronaldo makes indecent gestures

As Ronaldo walked off the pitch, Al-Hilal fans began loud chants of "Messi, Messi." While he should have just ignored the chants, 38-year-old Ronaldo made obscene gestures towards the stands. He grabbed and shook his genitals whilst walking towards the tunnel.

During the match, Ronaldo was also booked by referee Michael Oliver for grabbing Colombian midfielder Gustavo Cuellar in a fight.

Interestingly, on Tuesday, Ronaldo was outperformed by Odion Ighalo, a much less successful former Manchester United forward. The Nigerian striker netted both goals for Al-Hilal, while all Ronaldo could manage was a yellow card and a disallowed goal.

Referee Oliver, who currently refs Premier League games as well in England, handed Al-Hilal a penalty just three minutes before the half-time break. Ighalo, who also played for Watford in the English top-flight, produced a composed finish as he successfully scored from the spot.

The second half turned out to be pretty much like the first half, where one former Manchester United forward appeared frustrated [Ronaldo], while the other flourished. Ronaldo was booked for an on-field fight, and just a few minutes later, the hosts were awarded another penalty just past the hour. Ighalo made no mistake in doubling Al-Hilal's lead.

Frustrating game for Ronaldo

Later in the second half, when Ronaldo thought he'd pulled one back for Al-Nassr, it was declared offside. And to make Ronaldo's misery worse, the Portuguese forward won a penalty for his side via handball when his free-kick was blocked, but Oliver overturned his decision after a VAR review.

Ighalo first entered the Premier League when he was at Watford. He returned to the English league when he moved from Chinese club Shanghai Shenhua to Manchester United on loan during the 2021 January transfer window. Since the Covid-19 pandemic happened, halting everything including the football season, the Red Devils extended Ighalo's contract by a year. However, the Nigerian player managed to secure just 23 appearances for the Red Devils, where he scored five times.

This was not the first time fans in Saudi Arabia have used Messi's name to irk Ronaldo, who now can face disciplinary action for making those indecent gestures. Earlier in the 2022-23 campaign, Ronaldo had an outburst against a young fan, who confronted the Al-Nassr forward in the tunnel after their win over Al-Batin, where the Portuguese forward had failed to score or provide an assist. "Messi is so much better than you!" the fan told Ronaldo.

Getting instantly annoyed by the boy's comments, Ronaldo replied, "It's an easy match! It's an easy match!"

Since joining Al-Nassr in January this year, Ronaldo has netted 11 goals and two assists in 13 matches in all competitions. It also includes two hat-tricks. Ronaldo has now gone without scoring in two straight league games, with his last goal coming against Al-Adalah FC. Al-Nassr won that game 5-0 and Ronaldo scored a brace in it.

Ronaldo mutually parted ways with Manchester United towards the end of 2022 and joined Al-Nassr on a two-year contract as a free agent. The Mrsool Park club offered Ronaldo a lucrative £173 million-a-year contract and the entire deal is believed to run across seven years in total - with Ronaldo taking up an ambassadorial role once he officially retires from professional football.