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Lionel Messi, PSG beat Cristiano Ronaldo, Saudi all-stars

Lionel Messi (L) of PSG faced off with longtime rival Cristiano Ronaldo of the Riyadh XI for the first time since 2020 on Thursday in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Photo by EPA-EFE/STR
Lionel Messi (L) of PSG faced off with longtime rival Cristiano Ronaldo of the Riyadh XI for the first time since 2020 on Thursday in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Photo by EPA-EFE/STR

Jan. 19 (UPI) -- Cristiano Ronaldo scored two first-half goals, but the Lionel Messi-led Paris Saint-Germain attack overwhelmed his Riyadh XI squad with a second-half explosion for a friendly win Thursday in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Ronaldo scored in the 34th minute and in first-half stoppage time of the 5-4 loss. Messi found the net for the first goal in the third minute against the collection of all-star players from Saudi teams Al Nassr and Al Hila.

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Marquinhos, Sergio Ramos, Kylian Mbappe and Hugo Ekitike also scored for PSG. Jan Hyun-soo and Talisca scored in the second-half for Riyadh XI.

The matchup was the first meeting between Messi and Ronaldo since 2020, when Messi and Barcelona beat Ronaldo and Juventus 3-0. Ronaldo, who joined Al Nassr on Dec. 30, made his Saudi debut in the friendly.

Neymar Jr. assisted PSG's two first-half goals. The Brazilian striker received a pass on the left flank, deep in opposing territory. He then lifted a short cross into the box at King Fahd Stadium.

Messi ran onto the feed and used his left foot for a first-touch shot just inside the far post. The slow roller slipped behind goalie Mohammed Al-Owais.

PSG goalie Keylor Navas prompted Ronaldo's penalty kick about 30 minutes later. The Costa Rican goalie punched Ronaldo in the face while jumping for a ball in front of the net. Ronaldo then stepped up to the penalty spot and blasted a shot into the right side of the net.

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Neymar assisted defender Marquinhos for another score in the 43rd minute, which gave PSG a 2-1 lead. He curled a pass through the box, which flew toward the far post before Marquinhos stepped into the area and redirected a shot into the right side of the net.

Neymar went on to miss a penalty kick in first half stoppage time. Ronaldo found the net for his second score just minutes later, tying the game at halftime.

The star striker finished that play with a header just inside the right post, which beat Navas for another equalizer.

Ramos scored a go-ahead goal for PSG in the 53rd minute. Mbappe raced past a defender to the end line on the left of the goal to setup that score. He then slipped a short pass in front of the net. Ramos ran into the area and fired a point-blank shot past Al-Owais.

Hyun-soo equalized again in the 56th minute. Mbappe gave PSG another lead a few minutes later when he beat Al-Owais with a penalty kick.

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Midfielder Ismael Gharbi assisted Ekitike to give PSG a 5-3 edge in the 78th minute. Talisca scored Riyah XI's final goal in stoppage time.

Ronaldo has yet to appear in a regular game for his new Riyadh-based club. Al Nassr will battle Ettifaq in a Saudi Pro League match at 12:30 p.m. EST Sunday at Mrsool Park in Riyadh.

PSG will battle Pays de Cassell in a French Cup match at 2:45 p.m. EST Monday in Lens, France.

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