Paris Saint-Germain vs Riyadh All-Stars Recap: One Last Dance

Longtime rivals, Messi and Ronaldo, clash one last time in a friendly matchup


Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi during their last match

Christopher Alvarez, General Editor

Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. Two of the greatest football players of our generation. The pair had likely one last matchup yesterday at a Paris Saint-Germain and Riyadh All-Stars match in Qatar. While being considered a friendly tournament, the two sides played like it was anything but a friendly. 

The two teams were announced to be clashing on January 19th, 2022 as a part of a PSG Qatar tour. This matchup was originally supposed to happen last January, but was pushed back due to COVID-19. While Messi has been with PSG for a few years now, Ronaldo has recently signed onto Saudi Arabian team Al Nassar in late December. Since Riyadh is a Saudi league All-Star team, Ronaldo was bound to be included in the lineup going up against Messi and PSG. The hype and anticipation was immense in the global football community, and the match had a large amount of fans watching the match. 

The first half had action by the 3rd minute, with recent 2022 World Cup winner Lionel Messi scoring a goal with an assist by Brazilian legend Neymar Jr. After this, Riyadh made multiple attempts to put the ball in the net but were unable to until the 34th minute. A foul was committed by PSG’s goalkeeper against Cristiano Ronaldo inside PSG’s own box, triggering a penalty kick. The kick was taken by Ronaldo himself, and he was able to easily score. This is the first goal he would score in his new home in Saudi Arabia. The 39th minute saw the match’s first and only red card given to PSG’s Bernat for a slide tackle. About 4 minutes later, PSG scored again, this time with Brazil’s defender Marquinhos making a tap-in. A few minutes after that, a penalty was given to PSG after a foul, and Neymar Jr. was chosen to take the shot. However, Riyadh’s goalkeeper managed to guess correctly where Neymar would shoot, saving the penalty. A counter attack was made after this save, and Cristiano Ronaldo scored a brace, proving that he still has it in him even at his age. 

The halftime whistle was blown and the stakes were high with a 2-2 tied score. This match didn’t have a dominant side the first half, as many were expecting with PSG being the dominant ones. 

While both teams were doing great and giving it their all, the second half showed which team was really in control. In the 53rd minute, Sergio Ramos scored for PSG, putting them in the lead once again. 2 minutes later the Korean player H. Jung equalized the score for Riyadh, putting in a header from a corner kick. A few minutes after that, PSG came in the lead once more when a foul was committed inside Riyadh’s box and a penalty was given. The young French 2018 World Cup winner, Kylian Mbappé, was chosen to take the shot and easily scored making it 4-3. The 60th minute saw Ronaldo being subbed off, as well as Messi and Mbappé. The official PSG live stream of the match saw almost 350k viewers leave after this occurred. The rest of the match saw 2 more goals being scored, with one at the 77th minute by PSG’s Ekitike and one in overtime by Riyadh’s Talisca. 

The final score was 5-4, with a PSG win. The team celebrated their victory with a trophy.

This matchup was definitely a very entertaining ending to the Ronaldo-Messi rivalry. While not the Portugal – Argentina World Cup final that many people wanted, it was still nonetheless a great ending. Having Messi, Ronaldo, Mbappé, Neymar Jr, and many other great players on the same pitch was amazing to see. We can only imagine how the atmosphere was in the stadium. It was also great to see Mbappé share a laugh with Ronaldo before the second half began, as Mbappé has said that he had always idolized the Portuguese star. 

Messi and Ronaldo are both legends in their own right. Messi doesn’t have much to prove anymore after winning the World Cup, but playing against his long time rival was probably something that he didn’t take lightly during the match. And though Ronaldo has been mistreated in his late career and has not been given the credit he deserves, he still has that insane drive for football in him.

Seeing these two towards the end of their football career is bittersweet, but we should all be grateful that we were able to experience their rivalry from the beginning to the end.