Al Nassr produced an exhilarating performance on Thursday night to beat Lionel Messi‘s Inter Miami 6-0 in a club friendly at the Kingdom Arena in Riyadh. Despite Cristiano Ronaldo‘s absence from the match – the Portugal star didn’t play due to an injury – the fans were treated to a glimpse of his long-term rivalry with Messi during a moment shortly after the start of the match.
Al Nassr made an electrifying start to the match, with Brazilian Talisca smashing a hat-trick within the opening 12 minutes against their Major League Soccer adversaries. The fans were buzzing as a Messi-less Inter Miami – the Argentinian started from the bench – looked hapless in the middle with their newest signings, Luis Suarez and Sergio Busquets, unable to make a mark in the game.
During the 24th minute mark, the official broadcasters put their cameras towards Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo in a split-screen; while Messi looked worried as he sat on the bench, the Al Nassr forward was in the VIP box.
It seemed the footage also appeared on the giant screen inside the stadium, as Ronaldo, upon seeing himself, passed a rather boastful smile. The footage soon became viral on social media platforms.
Since their early days in football, Messi and Ronaldo have fueled one of the sport’s most iconic rivalries. Ronaldo’s 2008 Ballon d’Or win with Manchester United ignited the competition; over the next nine years, the duo continued to share the Ballon d’Or titles before Croatia’s Luka Modric broke the streak in 2018.
In 2009, Ronaldo’s move to Real Madrid, the arch-rivals of Messi’s FC Barcelona, marked the beginning of an era defined by their thrilling competition.
While both have won almost every possible club honour, Messi ‘completed football’ when he lifted the 2022 World Cup title with Argentina. It remains the only missing trophy from Ronaldo’s cabinet, although he did lift a continental title with Portugal in 2016 when the side won the Euro.
Talisca, with his hat-trick, not only highlighted the vast gap in class but also paid tribute to Ronaldo with his celebratory gesture.
As Inter Miami look ahead to the new MLS season starting on February 21, they will now continue their preparations with upcoming games in Asia, having already played matches against El Salvador and FC Dallas before their trip to the Middle East.