Delight for Damac at Al Fayha
Damac leapfrogged Al Fayha into eighth place in the RSL standings on Friday evening with a 4-2 win at the King Salman Sport City Stadium. Fresh from their victory in the Asir derby last weekend it was Damac who had the early upper hand and opened the scoring on the 16th minute as Al Fayha defender Muhannad Al Qaydhi handled the ball in the box. Damac attacker Georges-Kévin N'Koudou stepped up and smashed the ball into the bottom left hand corner. Damac were in the ascendency and grabbed a deserved second on the 35th minute of the contest. A hopeful long ball fell to N’Koudou who skipped around Mohammed Al Baqawi with an impressive turn of speed before drilling in a dangerous ball into the box, Abdulaziz Al Shahrani slid in and the side from Khamis Mushait went 2-0 up.
The hosts pulled a goal back ten minutes after the restart. Nigerian attacker Henry Onyekuru picked up the ball on the edge of the box, held off two Damac defenders before accurately slotting a shot out of the reach of keeper Mohammed Al Mahasneh which came off the post and crossed the goal line. Al Fayha pushed for a leveller and perhaps it should have been 2-2 had Anthony Nwakaeme’s snapshot not flown just over the bar.
Damac went 3-1 up with a well-crafted goal. Algerian defender Abdelkader Bedrane provided a perfect 40-yard pass into the path of N'Koudou and the Cameroonian timed his run to perfection before slotting the ball into the bottom corner. Four minutes later Al Fayha pulled back another with Onyekuru driving into the box and unleashing a fierce near post shot that smashed off the upright. Al Fayha thought they had found a leveller, however Onyekuru was offside in the buildup to deny Fashion Sakala an equaliser. The hosts were desperate to find parity and Onyekuru again missed a huge chance as his close range header ballooned over with five minutes left to play.
With Al Fayha on the front-foot, Damac wrapped up the three points in stoppage time. Stanciu provided a lofted ball to substitute Assan Ceesay, the Gambian expertly controlled the ball with his thigh before guiding the ball into the corner and handing Damac back-to-back 4-2 wins in RSL.
Mitrovic on fire as Al Hilal edge out Al Nassr in the Riyadh derby
Aleksandar Mitrović scored a late brace to help Al Hilal secure bragging rights with a 3-0 win over fierce local rivals Al Nassr in a frenetic Riyadh derby on Friday evening.
Expectations were high at a sold out King Fahd International Stadium, and the first half certainly delivered with a fast start, but both sides were guilty of missing a number of chances to open the scoring. AFC Asian player of the year Salem Aldawsari really should have opened the scoring three minutes into the contest when the ball fell to him inside of the box, even more shocking was the Al Hilal captain missing a carbon copy chance just two minutes later. Not to be outdone, Al Nassr attacker Talisca created a moment of magic when he clipped the ball over the head of Al Hilal defender Mohammed Alburayk but his follow up volley flew over the bar.
Cristiano Ronaldo, who demanded much of the pregame attention, flashed a shot in anger which was saved by Yassine Bono. Whilst summer signing Sadio Mane also got in on the act, but the Senegal international winger saw his strike just skip past the post. In a tense and nervy first half, Al Nassr demanded a penalty as the first half ended when Kalidou Koulibaly took down Seko Fofana in the box, however the referee waved away the protestations of the visitors, whilst VAR added that playmaker Otavio was offside in the buildup.
Al Hilal stepped up in the second half and a mazy run and ultimately tame shot from Aldawsari underlined their intentions. Just after the hour mark the RSL leaders had the lead. Saud Abdulhamid hung up a ball into the box, which was nodded home by Sergej Milinkovic-Savic to send the home fans into raptures. Al Nassr searched for a leveller and thought that Ronaldo’s fierce volley should have stood, unfortunately the Portuguese star was flagged offside although Ronaldo and the majority of the Al Nassr backroom staff long continued to protest the decision.
Al Nassr were desperate to get back into the contest but it was Mitrovic and Al Hilal who delivered the knockout blow with two late goals. The first came with a near post run and a now trademark powerful header from the big Serbian. In the madness of the celebrations, Al Hilal defender Ali Albulayhi was shown a straight red for taunting the visiting fans. However, the night belonged to the blue side of Riyadh as Mitrovic latched onto a flicked header from compatriot Milinkovic-Savic before guiding the ball home to maintain Al Nassr’s undefeated start to the RSL season and open up a seven point lead on their title rivals.