RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) — What was billed as a potential final meeting between longtime rivals Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo didn’t materialize, but there was no doubt which of the superstars enjoyed Al-Nassr’s 6-0 rout of Inter Miami more on Thursday.
Messi spent all but the final seven minutes on the Miami bench looking increasingly glum as Al-Nassr, cheered on by an appreciative Ronaldo sitting high in the Kingdom Arena stands recovering from a calf injury, ran riot in this friendly and scored three goals in the first 12 minutes.
Inside three minutes, Otavio fired an unstoppable shot into the top corner of Miami’s goal which had his Portuguese compatriot Ronaldo on his feet cheering and clapping. It happened again three minutes later as Brazil’s Anderson Talisca scored from close range.
Aymeric Laporte then did the opposite, sending a free-kick from inside the Al-Nassr half over the head of Miami goalkeeper Drake Callender, who sprinted back toward his goal in a vain attempt to block the unexpected shot.
The MLS team, 4-3 losers to Nassr’s Riyadh rival Al-Hilal three days previously in the first game of its Saudi Arabian tour, offered little in attack in the first half apart from a Luis Suarez volley.
After the break, the goals continued for Al-Nassr, which was also missing Sadio Mané to international duty with Senegal and five senior domestic players at the Asian Cup with the Saudi Arabian national team.
After 51 minutes, Talisca scored his second from the spot and midway through the half, Mohammed Maran headed a fifth. There was still time for Talisca to complete his hat trick and Miami’s humiliation.
Messi came on in the closing stages but had little impact.
Miami’s preseason tour continues in Asia with games in Hong Kong on Sunday and Japan three days later.
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