Cristiano Ronaldo walked off the field to chants of "Messi, Messi, Messi!" ringing in his ears as delighted Al-Hilal fans watched their Saudi Pro League team beat the Portugal superstar's Al-Nassr 3-0 in the Riyadh Derby.
The five-time Ballon d'Or winner finished on the losing team after Aleksandar Mitrovic scored twice following Serbian Sergej Milinkovic's opening goal for Al-Hilal.
Saudi soccer has not been the same since the former Real Madrid and Manchester United forward completed a move last December, sparking a frenzy in the country.
Ronaldo tried everything on Friday. In the second half with Al-Nassr trailing by a solitary goal, he shot a fierce volley high into the net but it was marginally ruled out for offside.
Soon after he rolled around the floor of the Al-Hilal penalty area claiming he had been elbowed. When Mitrovic scored his first and Al-Hilal's second late in the game, Ronaldo insisted he had been fouled in the buildup.
Hilal have their own superstar but a less influential one right now as Neymar, who signed from Paris Saint-Germain in August, suffered a serious injury while on international duty with Brazil in October.
On social media, Neymar posted good luck messages to his teammates, such as Mitrovic, midfielder Ruben Neves and defender Kalidou Koulibaly who all arrived in the summer as highly rated English Premier League players.
They joined several Saudi Arabian internationals in the team such as Salem Al-Dawsari and Saleh Al-Shehri, who scored against Lionel Messi's Argentina in Saudi Arabia's famous 2-1 win at the 2022 World Cup.
The derby defeat on Friday left Al-Nassr seven points behind leaders Al-Hilal after 15 rounds.
Ronaldo may have his work cut out to help his team win title No.10 but, given his form so far this season, he may still have the last laugh with the Messi chants fading away.
Australian Associated Press