UAE: Fans thrilled to watch Ronaldo in action as Messi chants fill stadium

In 2017, Cristiano Ronaldo took the lead in Real Madrid's FIFA Club World Cup victory in Abu Dhabi, earning a standing ovation from fans for his match-winning goal. Seven years later, the football icon returned to the UAE, this time leading Saudi Arabian club Al Nassr against UAE's Al Ain FC in an AFC Asian Champions League quarterfinal.

Despite Ronaldo's presence attracting ticketless fans to the Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium, not all attendees were supporting him. Many Emirati fans, traveling from Abu Dhabi, were there to support Al Ain, the 14-time UAE champions, in the quarterfinal clash. But there were still many football fans savouring the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to watch a true footballing icon live.Pong Wang, a Vietnamese tourist, arrived in Al Ain from Ras Al Khaimah without match tickets with his friends.

Luckily, a Saudi national who noticed his desperate plea for tickets at the main gate, generously offered him and his friends tickets for free.As Wang grabbed a seat at the stadium, he probably felt like a classic centre-forward who just received the perfect pass to score an exquisite goal.But there were no goals for Ronaldo and Al Nassr on Monday night as Al Ain won by a solitary goal, drawing deafening cheers and even chants of ‘Messi, Messi’ from the home fans!

Just days after being slapped with a suspension for his controversial reaction to rival fans who taunted him with chants of ‘Messi, Messi’ in Saudi Arabia, Ronaldo was again reminded of Lionel Messi, his great Argentinian rival.

This time those chants came when his team was desperately trying to save the match against an inspired Al Ain team.An equaliser never came from the Saudi club as jubilant Al Ain fans returned home singing their club anthem.

“It was wonderful, we showed Ronaldo and Al Nassr that we are ‘The Boss’,” Ahmed, an Emirati teenager, said, referring to Al Ain FC’s nickname ‘The Boss’.“I didn’t, but a lot of Al Ain fans chanted Messi’s name. He (Ronaldo) didn’t like it, but he didn’t react. He was calm.”

Not once did the former Real Madrid striker react to the chants during the match on Monday.But after the final whistle, Ronaldo smiled at the fans before disappearing into the tunnel.He will now wait for the second leg of the quarterfinal clash on March 11 in Riyadh when Al Nassr will hope to overturn the 1-0 d

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