Al Nassr showed no signs of missing injured Cristiano Ronaldo as they coasted to a 6-0 win over Inter Miami in the Riyadh Season Cup – with Aymeric Laporte scoring from his own half as Lionel Messi watched on from the bench.
Ronaldo continues to manage a calf problem, but was in the stands at the Kingdom Arena on Thursday night for the friendly which was supposed to see him face off against his old rival Messi once again.
Messi, though, was named only among the Inter Miami substitutes, as the Argentina star was reported to be carrying a hamstring issue from Monday’s game against Al Hilal and had initially not been expected to be involved at all.
Saudi Pro League side Al Nassr raced into a 3-0 lead inside the opening 12 minutes.
No Ronaldo? Don’t worry.. pic.twitter.com/zpWf9XIbwn
— AlNassr FC (@AlNassrFC_EN) February 1, 2024
Portuguese forward Otavio scored after just three minutes when he cut inside to fire a right-footed shot into the top corner.
Brazilian midfielder Anderson Talisca soon slid in a second to finish off a crisp passing move into the left side of the penalty area before the ball was cut back across goal.
Former Manchester City defender Laporte then produced a stunning long-range effort when he sent a quickly taken free-kick from inside his own half soaring over backpedalling Inter Miami goalkeeper Drake Callender and into the net.
After Al Nassr goalkeeper David Ospina was forced off through injury in the 32nd minute, there was a brief stoppage before the break following a melee which saw Inter Miami midfielder Sergio Busquets and Al Nassr defender Nawaf Boushal both shown yellow cards by Swiss referee Esther Staubli.
— Inter Miami CF (@InterMiamiCF) February 1, 2024
Al Nassr extended their lead six minutes into the second half when Talisca converted a penalty and Mohammed Maran headed in a fifth following a corner.
With 15 minutes left, Talisca completed his hat-trick after latching onto a long pass behind the high Miami defensive line.
The goal was given following a VAR check after the offside flag had initially been raised.
Messi came on for the final six minutes, replacing Leonardo Campana, but had little time left to influence the game.