Ronaldo’s Al Nassr reach Asian Champions League last 16 with Persepolis draw

 Cristiano Ronaldo’s Al Nassr booked their place in the Asian Champions League knockout stages on Monday with a 0-0 draw at home to Iran’s Persepolis.

The Saudi Arabian side, who had won all four Group E matches going into the encounter in Riyadh, needed only a point at Al Awwal Park to advance to the last 16.

Nassr got just that, although they played the majority of the match with 10 men.

Their celebrations were also dampened somewhat by Ronaldo’s substitution with 13 minutes remaining following an earlier collision with Persepolis goalkeeper Alireza Beiranvand.

The contest sparked into life on four minutes, when Nassr had a claim for a penalty denied after Ronaldo looked to have been tripped in the visitors’ area. However, the Portugal forward admitted to the referee that it was not foul, with the official upholding the decision after consulting VAR.

Things worsened for the hosts not long after when Ali Lajami was shown a straight red card on 17 minutes for a raking his studs down Milad Sarlak’s shin.

Persepolis, two-time runners-up, did have a goal disallowed at the start of the second half, while Ronaldo later turned sharply inside the Persepolis penalty area but fired his low shot wide.

The Nassr captain, 38, had appeared to injure his neck at the beginning of the second half after Beiranvand landed on him when coming to claim a high ball.

Ronaldo was withdrawn on 77 minutes seemingly experiencing some discomfort.

Nassr face arch-rivals Al Hilal on Friday in a top-of-the-table clash in the Saudi Pro League.

In the group’s other match, Al Duhail got their first win this campaign with a 2-0 victory at home to Tajikistan side Istiklol