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Ronaldo scores winner in Saudi Arabia, says league is improving

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) — Cristiano Ronaldo helped Al-Nassr keep its Saudi Arabian title hopes alive by scoring the winning goal in a come-from-behind 3-2 victory over Al-Shabab on Tuesday.

If second-place Al-Nassr had lost the Riyadh derby then leader Al-Ittihad, which beat Al-Batin 1-0 earlier, would have been crowned champion with two games of the season remaining.

Cristian Guanca scored twice for Al-Shabab before Anderson Talisca of Brazil pulled a goal back for Al-Nassr just before the break.

Six minutes after the restart, the nine-time champions were level as Abdulrahman Ghareeb made it 2-2 from close range.

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Just before the hour, Ronaldo put Al-Nassr ahead in style, sprinting past two defenders to curl a shot into the top corner from the edge of the area. It was the Portugal star's 14th goal since joining after the World Cup.

“To be 2-0 down is very difficult but we believed until the end and scored three goals so congratulations to the team and the supporters who were amazing today,” the former Real Madrid star said.

Al-Ittihad is three points clear at the top of the standings.

Ronaldo said the Saudi league is slowly improving: “Step-by step I think this league will be in the top five leagues in the world but they need time, they need players, they need infrastructure.”

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More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports