Having helped Al-Nassr keep its Saudi Arabian title hopes alive by scoring the match-winning goal in a come-from-behind 3-2 victory over Al Shabab on Tuesday, Portuguese superstar Cristiano Ronaldo heaped high praise on the football league in the Gulf country.
Ronaldo joined Al-Nassr in January in a high-profile move that made him one of the highest-paid athletes in the world.
Despite the question marks over his motivation to play in Asia after dazzling for some of the biggest clubs in the world during his glittering career, Ronaldo has done remarkably well in Saudi.
The goal he scored on Tuesday was his 14th since joining Al-Nassr.
The 38-year-old said the Saudi league is slowly improving.
“Step-by step I think this league will be in the top five leagues in the world but they need time, they need players, they need infrastructure,” the five-time Ballon d’Or winner said.
Meanwhile, Ronaldo’s match-winning performance on Tuesday kept Al-Nassr in the title race.
If second-placed Al Nassr had lost the Riyadh derby then leader Al Ittihad, which beat Al Batin 1-0 earlier, would have been crowned champion with two games of the season remaining.
Cristian Guanca scored twice for Al Shabab before Anderson Talisca of Brazil pulled a goal back for Al Nassr just before the break.
Six minutes after the restart, the nine-time champion was level as Abdulrahman Ghareeb made it 2-2 from close range.
Just before the hour, Ronaldo put Al Nassr ahead in style, sprinting past two defenders to curl a shot into the top corner from the edge of the area.
“To be 2-0 down is very difficult but we believed until the end and scored three goals so congratulations to the team and the supporters who were amazing today,” the former Real Madrid star said.
Al Ittihad is three points clear at the top of the standings.
(With inputs from AP)
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