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Ronaldo Nets Hat Trick, Mane Doubles, Benzema Scores As Europe Stars Light Up Saudi League
- Cristiano Ronaldo lit up the Saudi Pro League's matchday three with a sensational hat-trick
- Ex-Liverpool stars Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino were both key for their respective clubs
- Karim Benzema finally opened his Saudi Pro League goal-scoring account with a slick score
The highly anticipated 2023/24 Saudi Pro League season is in full swing, captivating audiences worldwide.
This season has seen renowned football stars make bold and unconventional moves from Europe to the Middle East, with many of these figures stealing the spotlight.
A multitude of world-class footballers, who were previously considered elite talents on the global stage, have now shifted their focus to Saudi Arabia, making it the new epicentre of their football careers.
With three matches already played in the season, the giants of the game have wasted no time in making their mark - both individually and collectively - as they chase personal and team success.
Sports Brief delves into the performances of some of these top stars who decided to embark on their football journey in the Gulf country during the summer transfer window, analysing their impact after the third matchday.
The pioneer of the Saudi sojourn, Ronaldo is in his first full season with Al-Nassr after joining the club in January this year. After struggling to find his goal-scoring boots, the veteran forward is finally up and running. According to the BBC, he bagged a hat-trick, his 63rd overall in his side's comprehensive 5-0 trouncing of Al Fateh.
Mane 'succumbed' to the allure of the Saudis this summer after joining Al-Nassr from Bayern Munich. Since then, the 31-year-old has been nothing short of impressive. The two-time African Player of the Year scored a double in addition to Ronaldo's hat-trick as the Knights of Najd ended their two-game losing streak. In the process, the Senegal star took his total tally for the season to three goals in three matches, per Livescore.
Karim Benzema grabs assist in heavy win for Al-Ittihad on Saudi Pro League debutFootball
Benzema put aside his supposed rift with Al-Ittihad boss, Nuno Espirito Santo, when he broke his goal-scoring duck for the Tigers in a convincing four-nil rout against Al-Riyadh, GOAL reports. The reigning Ballon d'Or holder, who captained the side for the first time since joining in the summer, also provided an assist as his side consolidated their position at the summit of the league table.
The former Liverpool star has breathed fresh air since joining Al-Ahli this summer. Unfazed by his new surroundings, Firmino was the first player to bag a hat-trick in the 2023/24 season on his Saudi Pro League debut. While missing out on matchday two due to injury, the Brazilian attacker proved his clutch powers again when his assist helped Al-Ahli maintain their 100 per cent start.
The burly Serbian striker took to the SPL like a duck to water when he scored on his debut for Al-Hilal. The former Fulham forward, who only joined the team a few days ago, needed only 42 minutes to announce his presence. He will be a nightmare for defenders and is an absolute bargain for the Riyadh-based giants, who are looking to reclaim the league crown from rivals, Al-Ittihad.
How top summer signings in Saudi League performed as Mane scores, Benzema grabs assistFootball
Considered surplus to requirement at Barcelona, Kessie has not looked back since joining the newly-promoted Al-Ahli. He has been a menace in midfield, bamboozling his way into the middle of the park with his sheer strength. On August 24, the 26-year-old registered his first goal for the club as they secured a last-gasp winner against Al-Akhdoud.
Ronaldo predicts SPL future
Earlier, Sports Brief reported on Ronaldo emphasising his belief in the SPL once again, claiming the league is poised to become one of the premier football competitions globally in the coming years.
Following a remarkable hat-trick that contributed to his team's first victory of the 2023-24 league season, he reiterated a belief that the Saudi top flight could rival the top-tier divisions in Europe.