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Al Nassr's Portuguese forward Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates after scoring during the Saudi Pro League football match against Abha at Mrsool Park Stadium in Riyadh. Image Credit: AFP

Dubai: Cristiano Ronaldo finally broke his three-year drought of not scoring a free kick as he netted a spectacular effort for Al Nassr against Abha on Saturday.

The Portuguese forward was eager to help Rudi Garcia’s team cut the gap to the Saudi Pro League leaders, Al Ittihad, but things did not start well as they fell behind 1-0 in the 26th minute of the game.

30 yards out

However, Ronaldo equalized in the 77th minute with a central free kick from over 30 yards out. The 38-year-old smashed the ball into the bottom corner past Abha goalkeeper David Epassy, triggering wild celebrations from his teammates.

Despite Ronaldo’s previous success rate from set-pieces, the five-time Ballon d’Or winner had not scored a free kick in almost three years. His last successful effort came in July 2020 against Juventus’ cross-city rivals Torino in a 4-1 victory. He had failed to add to his record during his second spell with Manchester United before moving to Al Nassr.

His goal helped Al Nassr secure a vital three points in the Saudi title race. After Abha were reduced to 10 men, Brazilian forward Anderson Talisca scored an 86th-minute penalty to seal the win.

Ronaldo’s goal was his first at Al Nasr’s Marsool Park stadium since his move to Saudi Arabia on a big money 2 1/2 year deal.

The former Real Madrid star will now link up with the Portugal squad for the international break before returning to lead Al Nassr’s bid to win the league title for the first time since 2019.