It was the Cristiano Ronaldo show once more on Tuesday as he inspired Al-Nassr to a 4-0 win over Riyadh rivals Al-Shabab with two goals, two assists and plenty more besides, just four days after a hat-trick against Al-Fateh.
It was, on paper, the toughest test of the campaign so far for the Yellows against the six-time champions who finished fourth last season, and they strolled through it.
The Portuguese player seems to enjoy taking on Al-Shabab as he had his best game of last season in a 3-2 win against the same opponents. This was a much more emphatic victory, with Ronaldo putting the hosts ahead from the spot after 13 minutes, slotting the ball past Kim Seung-gyu, who dived the wrong way to his right.
After 19 minutes, Ronaldo netted again with one of the best headers ever seen in the Saudi Arabian league, albeit for no gain.
A Marcelo Brozovic corner from the right was met at the far post by the 38-year-old who nodded the ball back across goal in a perfect fashion. It was a sublime strike but was then ruled out for a push by the Portuguese star seeking to get clear of his marker. It looked harsh and not just because it denied a memorable goal.
The five-time Ballon d’Or winner got his second seven minutes before the break, also from the spot, after he was clipped in the area by Gustavo Cuellar..
Al-Nassr, their two defeats in the first two games of the season forgotten, were starting to enjoy themselves and so were the fans. Ronaldo created the third three minutes later with a first time pass from a central position outside the area to lay it on a plate for the lively Sadio Mane, coming in from the right, to sweep home from the edge of the six yard box.
It could have been worse in the second half for Al-Shabab. The home fans were waiting for another Ronaldo hat-trick and the chance came just after the hour.
Otavio’s shot hit Iago Santos on the arm and the referee pointed to the spot once more. Instead of going for his third, Ronaldo handed the ball to Abdulrahman Ghareeb, who was then hugged by Mane. The two foreign stars urged the crowd to support the local man but Ghareeb shot against the post.
Very quickly afterwards, Al-Nassr somehow missed the chance to make it 4-0 anyway. Ronaldo had space down the left but his pass into the middle was not a great one and was intercepted by Santos who almost put the ball into his own net with Kim having to make a quick reaction save. Mane was there for the rebound but shot against the post with the goal at his mercy.
Then, with 10 minutes remaining, Ronaldo headed against the post and Sultan Al-Ghannam reacted the quickest to make it 4-0. By that time, Al-Shabab had been reduced to 10 men as Ever Banega was ejected for stamping on Aymeric Laporte who enjoyed his first appearance since arriving from Manchester City. It was a great night all round for Al-Nassr.
Down in Jeddah, Al-Ahli made it four wins out of four to move back into second behind local rivals Al-Ittihad, thanks to a 2-0 win over Al-Tai. Allan Saint-Maximin danced down the left to pull the back back to the penalty spot where Riyad Mahrez hit a low first-time shot into the opposite corner.
Al-Tai, already reduced to 10 men following the sending off of Alfa Semedo struggled to get back on track and it was no surprise when Franck Kessie scored for the second successive game with a thunderbolt from the edge of the area.
Elsewhere Al-Khaleej drew 1-1 with Al-Hazem, Damac and Al-Fateh ended 2-2 and Al-Taawoun won 1-0 at Al-Okhdood but this day was all about Ronaldo once again.
Madukwe B. Nwabuisi is an accomplished journalist renown for his fearless reporting style and extensive expertise in the field. He is an investigative journalist, who has established himself as a kamikaze reporter.