Record-breaking Al Hilal on cloud nine
Roshn Saudi League leaders Al Hilal recorded the biggest win in the history of the competition, putting nine goals unanswered against bottom-placed Al Hazem at the King Abdullah Sports City in Buraidah.
It took a quarter of an hour for the visitors to open their account as Mohammed Al Burayk, deputising for the injured Yasser Al Shahrani at left-back, whipped in a cross that was poked in by Aleksandar Mitrovic for his 11th goal of the campaign.
Mohammed Kanno rifled from long range to double Al Hilal’s lead and youngster Mohammed Al Qahtani marked his first start of the season with a well-taken goal, pouncing on Aymen Dahmen’s spilled save of Mitrovic’s initial shot to make it 3-0 at the interval.
Brazilian winger Malcom became the first player to get his second hat-trick in the 2023-24 RSL season with three second-half goals, while substitute Saleh Al Shehri transferred his recent hot form for the national team into the RSL, registering his first goal of the season and Al Burayk chipped in with a goal before Sergei Milinkovic-Savic came off the bench to round off the scoring in added time.
The win means Al Hilal overtake Al Ittihad’s 8-0 win over Al Qadsia, a record that stood for 12 years as the biggest victory in RSL history.
N’Koudou dominates Asir derby
A Georges-Kevin N’Koudou masterclass settled the Asir derby in favour of the home side, with the Cameroonian attacker adding an assist to his three-goal tally to earn Damac a 4-2 victory over neighbours Abha at the Prince Sultan bin Abdulaziz Sports City.
The hosts took a 2-0 lead into the dressing rooms courtesy of a curled effort and a penalty, both scored by the former Tottenham Hotspur and Besiktas man in the span of 120 seconds.
Badr Munshi inadvertently sent the ball into his own net midway through the second half, giving Abha some hope. Zakaria Sami’s header 15 minutes from time restored parity in the derby, setting up a thrilling finale.
Deep into added time, N’Koudou completed his hat-trick from a second spot kick before setting up Gambian Forward Assan Ceesay for Damac’s fourth. N’Koudou’s hat-trick takes his tally for the season to eight goals, a figure only ever previously bettered by one Damac player; Argentinian forward Emilio Zelaya.
Ighalo hat-trick wins it for Al Wehda
The third match of the evening produced a third hat-trick. Odion Ighalo’s trio of goals against Al Khaleej made matchweek 14 of the 2023-24 RSL season the weekend with the joint-most hat-tricks in the competition’s history. The only other time a matchweek saw three hat-tricks was matchweek 18 of the 2011-12 season, when Al Wehda duo Mukhtar Fallatah and Mohannad Asiri hit hat-tricks in an 8-1 thumping of Al Hazem and the late Youssef Al Salem bagged three in Al Ettifaq’s 4-2 win over Najran.
This time around, Al Wehda’s victory at the King Abdulaziz Sports City wasn’t as massive as 12 years ago, but nevertheless, a 3-1 win over Al Khaleej was enough to help the Meccan club retain their place in the top half of the RSL table.
The Nigerian forward needed just three minutes to open his account after Anselmo setup Abdulaziz Noor with an exquisite Rabona pass and the winger squared for Ighalo to open the scoring.
Al Khaleej captain Fabio Martins netted the equaliser from the penalty spot with his sixth goal of the campaign before Ighalo settled the tie with two second-half goals, the first a header following Saeed Al Muwallad’s cross and the third a penalty ten minutes from time to seal the three points for Giorgios Donis’ men.
Spoils shared in Jeddah between former champions
For all the hat-tricks of the three other games, the game touted to be the pick of Saturday’s action produced no goals. A near capacity crowd of 17,456 fans at the Prince Abdullah Al Faisal Sports City in Jeddah lit up the stands, but the two former RSL champions failed to matched that energy with goals on the pitch.
As Igor Biscan’s men looked to build from the back, the high press characteristic of coach Matthias Jaissle’s side produced an early chance for Al Ahli, with Franck Kessie regaining possession deep inside Al Shabab’s half and setting up Riyad Mahrez whose curled effort passed just over the crossbar.
Gabri Veiga hit the side netting while at the other end, Edouard Mendy was at his flexible best, diving low to tip Al Shabab’s Yannick Carrasco’s shot from the edge of the penalty box.
Further efforts from Mahrez and substitute Ali Majrashi produced no change in the result as Korean goalkeeper Kim Seung-gyu made two fine saves to ensure his side walk away from Jeddah with a valuable point against third-place Al Ahli.
Nwakaeme crashes Al Fateh’s party
Al Fateh’s celebrations with the opening of their new ground were marred by a second defeat in their last three matches as the early season form of Slaven Bilic’s men continues to falter away. The Al Ahsa-based side are without a win in three and have slipped down the table into sixth place. They are now the same distance off the relegation zone as they are off table toppers Al Hilal (14 points in each direction).
The culprits at Al Fateh Club Stadium were coach Vuk Rasovic’s Al Fayha who came into the match looking to bounce back from their own three-match winless run, and were able to achieve their objective thanks to a 39th minute strike from Nigerian winger Anthony Nwakaeme who bagged his fourth goal of the campaign.
With 10,815 fans in attendance, Al Fateh felt the absence of Armenian playmaker Lucas Zelarayan, struggling to create chances throughout.
At the other end, former Rangers forward Fashion Sakala thought he had sealed Al Fayha’s victory with a second goal as he broke free from the halfway line, rounding goalkeeper Jacob Rinne and applying the finish before being denied by a heroic goal-line clearance from Al Fateh centre-back Fahad Al Harbi.