Ronaldo tells ref to overturn penalty won in AFC Champions League

Cristiano Ronaldo convinced the referee to change his mind after awarding him a penalty in Al Nassr’s AFC Champions League 0-0 draw with Iran’s Persepolis.

The 38-year-old former Manchester United and Real Madrid great appeared to have been brought down by Soroush Rafiei inside the box and Chinese referee Ma Ning pointed to the spot.

Ronaldo leapt to his feet and approached the referee, wagging his finger, shaking his head and telling him there had been no foul.

After consulting VAR, the referee was sent to the pitch-side monitor and reversed his decision in the Group E clash in Riyadh.

The Saudi Pro League side had to play most of the match with 10 men after Ali Lajami was given a straight red card for a shin-raking challenge in the 17th minute.

They also lost Ronaldo to a neck injury with 13 minutes remaining, caused by Persepolis goalkeeper Alireza Beiranvand landing on the Portuguese star when claiming a high ball.

But the 2018 and 2020 Champions League runners-up from Iran were unable to capitalise, the point proving enough for Al Nassr to seal their place in the knockout stages as group winners.

Ronaldo has little time to recover with Al Nassr facing Al Hilal on Friday in a top-of-the-table league clash.

Al Ittihad on course

Saudi Arabian champions Al Ittihad are two points clear at the top of Group C after a 2-1 win at Uzbekistan’s AGMK FC.

Moroccan Abderrazak Hamdallah scored twice in four first-half minutes before Martin Boakye pulled one back for the hosts with 12 minutes remaining.

Two-time winners Al Ittihad, under new manager Marcelo Gallardo, need to avoid defeat at home to second-placed Sepahan in the final round of matches next week to go through as group winners.

The Iranian side defeated Iraq’s Air Force Club 1-0 at the Azadi Stadium in Tehran, despite having two players sent off.

Sepahan’s Farshad Ahmadzadeh scored the only goal from close range in the fourth minute before Mohammad Hosseinnezhad was sent off just before half-time.

Hadi Mohammadi was then red-carded on 90 minutes forcing Sepahan to hold out with nine men for 12 minutes of added time under an Air Force bombardment to secure the three points.

Uzbekistan’s Nasaf Qarshi moved top of Group B with a 3-1 win at home to Jordan’s Al Faisaly, and Qatari side Al Sadd kept their hopes alive by beating Sharjah 2-0 in the UAE.

Nasaf are top on 10 points ahead of their final match against Al Sadd, who are third on seven points with Sharjah, who face a trip to Al Faisaly, second on eight.

The group stage this year returned to a home-and-away group format for the first time since 2020 and expanded to 40 teams.

It rounds off in the West Zone next week with the five winners from Groups A to E and three best runners-up going through to the last 16 in February.

On Tuesday and Wednesday the final two rounds of East Zone matches kick off to decide the other eight teams in the last 16 from Groups F to J.

The quarter-finals will be played in March, the semi-finals in April, with the two-legged final in May.

AFP

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