Mane comes up trumps for Al Nassr, Al Tai grab vital late win at Al Riyadh

Al Tai take dramatic win at Al Riyadh

The Roshn Saudi League relegation battle took another twist on Friday as Al Tai needed a 102nd-minute own goal to secure a 2-1 victory against fellow strugglers Al Riyadh.

With new coach Leonardo Ramos on the sidelines, Al Tai made their intentions clear early on at the Prince Faisal bin Fahd Stadium. Alfa Semedo’s long-range strike looked to be heading into the top corner, however, Al Riyadh goalkeeper Martin Campana saved smartly to deny the Guinea-Bissau international. 

After being pushed back, Al Riyadh eventually created their first chance of note, with Didier Ndong providing a deep cross from the right wing, only for Saleh Al Abbas’ stooping header to go wide.

In first-half stoppage time, a moment of composure from Bernard Mensah handed Al Tai the lead. Al Riyadh defender Mohammed Al Shwirekh stayed a little too long on the ball, allowing the Ghanian to steal in and calmly round Campana to net his 12th RSL goal in a fine debut season for the attacker.

Not long into the second half, Al Riyadh captain Abdulelah Al Khaibari was given a straight red card following a challenge on Al Tai forward Andrei Cordea. Yet, despite being a man down, the hosts found a way back into the contest on the hour mark, albeit in fortuitous circumstances.

Al Tai goalkeeper Motaz Al Baqawi received what appeared a simple back pass, but a poor first touch allowed Abdulhadi Al Harajin the opportunity to slide in. The attempted clearance rebounded off the Al Riyadh substitute and into the net - a moment to forget for the Saudi Arabian.

The drama ramped up in stoppage-time, when Al Riyadh manager Odair Hellmann was sent off for protesting a potential penalty on Al Tai defender Al Toiawy. Then, in the 12th minute of added time, Al Tai grabbed a dramatic winner. 

Abdulrahman Al Harthi played a cross into the Al Riyadh area, which was headed on by Marko Dugandzic. This time, the rebound came off Al Riyadh substitute Khalid Al Shuwayyi and rolled into the net, sparking wild scenes on the Al Tai bench.

The victory pulled Al Tai out of the relegation zone, leapfrogging Al Riyadh into 14th place, with 26 points. As for the capital club, they drop to 15th, out of the relegation places only on goals scored.

Mane the difference as Al Nassr made to work hard against Al Fayha

Sadio Mane scored a brace and missed a penalty as Al Nassr grabbed three goals late in the second half to secure a 3-1, come-from-behind victory against Al Fayha.

It was the visitors, though, who made a dream start at Al Awwal Park, opening the scoring with six minutes on the clock. A quick throw-in found Fashion Sakala, who played a one-two with strike partner Anthony Nwakaeme. The Zambian burst into the penalty area and made no mistake in burying the ball into the bottom corner for his 14th goal of the RSL campaign.

Al Nassr immediately sparked into life and could have been level soon after. Slick build-up play found Otavio in the Al Fayha penalty area, but goalkeeper Vladimir Stojkovic got down well to smother the ball.

Stojkovic was then again called into action to halt Mane. Abdulrahman Ghareeb played the ball into the path of the Senegal international, who looked to clip the ball over the onrushing goalkeeper, however the shot rebounded off Stojkovic's chest.

With five minutes remaining in the first half, Al Nassr won a penalty when former player Ghislain Konan handled the ball in the area. In the absence of captain Cristiano Ronaldo, who was suspended for the game, Mane stepped up but sent the ball high over the crossbar.

Al Fayha’s goal was living a charmed life, with Al Nassr pressing throughout the second half for a goal. Only two minutes in, Gojko Cimirot denied Marcelo Brozovic with a goal-line clearance to maintain the away side’s advantage.

Soon after, Sakala thought he had fired Al Fayha 2-0 up with an instinctive finish, but he was denied by the offside flag. Meanwhile, at the other end, Mane’s personal duel with Stojkovic continued: this time the Serbian goalkeeper got a boot on the goal-bound effort. At the other end, Nwakaeme struck the post on the breakaway.

Yet, moments later, Al Nassr found their way back into the encounter with a towering header from Abdulelah Al Amri. Buoyed by the leveller, Luis Castro’s side ramped up the pressure, but Stojkovic was equal to it, pulling off a fine double save to quickly deny Aymeric Laporte and Al Amri from an Alex Telles corner.

Eventually, Al Fayha’s resistance was broken, with Mane having the last laugh in his battle with Stojkovic.

First, a snapshot volley was palmed into the net by the goalkeeper for Al Nassr to deservedly edge ahead; then Mane capped off a fine evening to put Al Nassr 3-1 up with a goal of real individual quality. After beating three Al Fayha defenders, the forward fired the ball through the legs of Stojkovic to seal the win. It lifted Mane to 12 RSL goals this campaign.

Al Fayha were reduced to 10 men in the closing stages as Sakala saw red for a push on Otavio, but it did little to change the result. Al Nassr remain in second, nine points behind Al Hilal having played a game more, while Al Fayha drop down to 11th.