Frustration for Gallardo as Al Ittihad settle for a draw at Al Ettifaq
New Al Ittihad boss Marcelo Gallardo started life in the Roshn Saudi League with a 1-1 draw away at Al Ettifaq. Al Ittihad had the better of the early exchanges and really should have taken the lead but Karim Benzema’s header was initially stopped by Al Ettifaq keeper Paulo Victor before defender Marcel Tisserand cleared the ball from off the line.
The home side opened the scoring five minutes before the break. Swedish international striker Robin Quaison saw his powerful header pushed out by Al Ittihad keeper Marcelo Grohe but Georginio Wijnaldum was on hand to smash home the rebound for his fifth goal of the season. After a lengthy wait, to check if Quaison was offside, the goal was given.
The visitors pushed for parity and eventually got their just reward 10 minutes after the restart. An errant pass from defender Jack Hendry was pounced on by Fabinho, who diligently passed the ball to Abderrazzaq Hamdallah. The Moroccan striker launched a thumping shot from close range, which satisfyingly clipped the bottom of the bar before hitting the back of the net giving Al Ittihad a deserved goal.
Both teams had chances to score a winner in the final third of the contest. Al Ittihad midfielder Faisal Al Ghamdi, returning to face the club he left just a few weeks ago, found himself with plenty of space on the edge of the box on two separate occasions, but the 22-year-old lacked composure and ballooned the ball over the bar. Whilst Jamaican winger Demarai Gray showed plenty of attacking intent and had a golden opportunity to put the home side back ahead, but his strike from the edge of the box agonisingly crept just wide.
The result will give new man Gallardo plenty to ponder, as he masterminds closing the ten-point gap on league leaders Al Hilal.
A tale of two penalties as Al Riyadh stun Al Taawoun in stoppage time
A retaken stoppage time penalty in the 99th minute handed Al Riyadh a dramatic 2-1 victory against high-flying Al Taawoun on Friday evening.
The hosts made the perfect start with just three minutes on the clock as Alvaro Medran drifted in a corner, which found the head of Joao Pedro. The glancing header from the Brazilian arched over the outstretched arm of Martin Campana in goal. That was the tenth goal from a corner for Al Taawoun, the highest tally currently in the RSL. Al Taawoun spurned a perfect chance to double their advantage from the penalty spot in the second half when Al Riyadh midfielder Birama Toure handled the ball in the box, however Musa Barrow’s penalty was saved by Campana, the Uruguayan goalkeeper making his second penalty save of the season out of four spot kicks faced so far.
The complexion of the contest changed on the hour mark as Al Taawoun attacker Abdulfattah Adam was shown a red card for a dangerous challenge on Abdullah Al Dawsari. Al Riyadh grew in confidence and made their numerical advantage count in the 71st minute. A dangerous ball into the box was badly controlled by Al Riyadh attacker Andre Gray, however strike partner Saleh Al Abbas was quick to react and showed plenty of composure to slot home from close range for his sixth goal of the season.
Al Riyadh completed a memorable comeback deep into stoppage time in a tale of two penalties. Abdulhadi Al Harajin initially stepped up for the visitors, but his tame penalty was saved by Al Taawoun keeper Mailson. However, VAR judged that the Brazilian had stepped off his line and ordered the spot-kick to be retaken. This time Toure stepped up and confidently dispatched the penalty to hand the visitors a vital win.
Ronaldo at the double as Al Nassr get the better of Al Okhdood
Cristiano Ronaldo grabbed a brace as Al Nassr eventually eased to a 3-0 victory over Al Okhdood at Al Awwal Park on Friday evening. Two goals in three second half minutes from the Portuguese superstar made the difference as the Riyadh based club closed the gap on their city rivals Al Hilal to just one point at the top of the RSL standings
The hosts made a lively start as Ronaldo skipped a trademark shot inches wide five minutes into the contest. After waves of pressure, Al Nassr broke the deadlock in the 12th minute with a fine team move. Octavio picked out Sultan Al Ghannam with a perfect diagonal pass and the cut-back left Sami Al Najei with a simple finish.
Al Nassr turned up the pressure as the second half progressed and Ronaldo did have the ball in the back of the net, only to be flagged offside. However, CR7 was not to be denied and scored two quick-fire goals to put Al Nassr out of sight. The first goal saw Ronaldo pick out a high clearance in the Al Okhdood box before lashing home at the near post and his second was a delightful lobbed finish from 30-yards after keeper Paulo Vítor charged out of his box.
Ronaldo now has 15 goals in 13 RSL outings for the season, and Al Nassr fans will be hoping the Portuguese attacker will be amongst the goals for their huge top-of the table clash with Al Hilal next week.
Stoppage time madness as Al Tai fight back against Al Raed
Al Tai scored three times in second half stoppage time to seal a 4-3 win at home against Al Raed. The Ha’il based club were 3-1 down heading into the 92nd minute but three goals in the final eight minutes saw them pull off an outrageous come-back against the odds.
It was Al Raed who made the perfect start at the Prince Abdulaziz bin Musa’ed Stadium as they raced into a two-goal lead just 27 minutes into the contest. Julio Tavares confidently dispatched a penalty to open the scoring before Yahya Sunbul reacted to a knockdown header to poke the ball home from close range. Al Tai midfielder Bernard Mensah reduced the deficit just before the break to leave the contest finely poised at 2-1 at halftime. Whilst Al Raed midfielder Mansour Al Bishi was shown a red card to cap off a wild first half for the visitors.
In the 71st minute, Al Raed thought they put the contest beyond doubt with a clinical counter-attack goal. After winning the ball on the edge of their own half, Al Raed broke away and Mohammed Fouzair smashed a shot from the edge of the box. Al Tai keeper Moataz Al Baqaawi meekly parried the ball and Karim El Berkaoui stole in to put the visitors 3-1 up.
Al Tai dominated possession and their never-say-die attitude reaped its rewards in a frantic end to the game. Two minutes into stoppage time Al Raed defender Abdullah Al Fahad turned the ball into his own net to make it 3-2, although in truth keeper Andre Moreira should have kept hold of the ball. Moments later Mensah kept his cool from the penalty spot to level up the contest having had two previous goals disallowed. With 100 minutes on the clock it was Dutch midfielder Virgil Misidjan who was to be the unlikely hero, his strike from just outside the box found the back of the net via a deflection to hand Al Tai a remarkable victory.