Al Nassr coach Rudi Garcia said that Cristiano Ronaldo was instrumental in helping his new team secure victory over Al Ettifaq on Sunday.
Anderson Talisca earned Al Nassr a 1-0 home win over Al Ettifaq, with Ronaldo making his Saudi Pro league debut as captain of the team.
"It’s a positive addition when you have a player like Ronaldo as he helps to distract the defenders, which is what happened with our goal," Garcia told reporters.
Ronaldo signed a 2-1/2 year deal with Al Nassr last month, reported to be worth over 200 million euros ($216.28 million), but has had to wait to play because of a two-match ban by England's FA for knocking a phone out of a fan's hand in April.
Expectations for his debut were sky-high after his brace against Paris St Germain in a friendly on Thursday, but despite showcasing plenty of endeavour against Al Ettifaq, the 37-year-old was unable to add to his tally of more than 800 senior goals overall for club and country.
"Today we created opportunities for him and asked the players to diversify the game between him and Talisca, and we must not forget that he participated in the (exhibition match against) Paris St Germain and did not get enough rest," continued Garcia.
"Even with the presence of Ronaldo, it is not easy to win the Saudi League because of ... the strength of the competitors."
The Portugal international had a shot from the edge of the penalty area blocked early on in the first half, before being denied a penalty shout upon being wrestled to the ground by an Ettifaq defender in the 19th minute.
His best moment after the break came in a supportive role, as he played a cross into the feet of Pity Martinez, whose first-time shot was tipped over the bar by Victor.
Ronaldo's desire to kick off his stint at Al Nassr with a goal became more and more evident as the second half wore on, culminating with an unsuccessful attempt at a bicycle kick.
"In the world of football there is one Cristiano Ronaldo and we are happy to have him with us. Ronaldo's personality helped him to adapt with the team," goalscorer Talisca said.
"If you want to win the title, we need to win such games and fight. Our goal was to return to the top and we succeeded in that, and I congratulate the players on achieving our goal," he added.
Al Nassr’s win moved them back to the top of the league standings with 33 points from 14 matches. They are a point ahead of second placed Al Hilal, who have played one game more. Al Nassr next face Al Ittihad in a Saudi Super Cup semi-final on Thursday.