Tremendous Tanase hands Al Okhdood major victory against Al Tai
Al Okhdood secured a huge three points in their quest to ward off relegation from the RSL on Thursday evening with a hard-earned 1-0 win over fellow strugglers Al Tai.
The hosts clarified their intentions in the opening exchanges at Prince Hathloul Sports City. Veteran striker Leandre Tawamba saw an early one-on-one opportunity saved with just three minutes on the clock, while when a well-worked free-kick routine fell to Saviour Godwin, the cutback and snapshot from the Nigerian was palmed away by Al Tai keeper Moataz Al Baqaawi.
Al Okhdood continued to ramp up the pressure as the first half progressed, and should have opened the scoring through Alex Collado. After picking up the ball on the left wing, the Spaniard drove into the Al Tai box, but Al Baqaawi kept his driven shot out.
However, on closer inspection, Al Tai had to thank Ibrahim Al Nakhli for his vital goal-line clearance. With the half coming to a close, Al Tai created their first chance of note when Tariq Mohammed flashed a shot across goal from a tight angle.
With 55 minutes on the clock, Al Okhdood struck what proved to be the decisive and only goal of the contest. A slack clearance from Al Baqaawi was seized on by defender Hussain Al Zabdani, who picked out Florin Tanase. The Romanian was allowed a touch in the box to set himself before picking out the bottom corner to give his side the lead with only his second goal of the RSL season.
Al Tai pushed for parity as substitute Abdulrahman Al Harthi saw his ferocious strike repelled by Al Okhdood's keeper Abdulaziz Al Awardi. Yet, the night belonged to the hosts who have now picked up three victories from their past five RSL outings.
Krychowiak saves day as Abha and Al Hazem draw in relegation face-off
Grzegorz Krychowiak scored a second-half stunner as Abha and Al Hazem shared the spoils in a stand-off between two sides in the RSL relegation zone.
It was a slow start at Prince Sultan bin Abdulaziz Stadium, with the two best chances of the half falling to the visitors. With 27 minutes on the clock, Al Hazem attacker Mohammed Al Thani launched a blistering 40-yard strike that had to be scrambled away by Abha keeper Ciprian Tatarusanu.
Al Thani then quickly spurred another chance to break the deadlock as he blazed an accurate pass from teammate Vina over the crossbar.
Abha stepped up in the second half, and perhaps should have taken the lead through the Argentine defender Fabián Noguera, only for his header to be gathered by Al Hazem keeper Aymen Dahmen. Al Hazem had set on the counter-attack throughout the contest and that tactic from coach Jose Carreno eventually paid dividends.
Al Hazem pushed numbers up on the counter, which saw Vina’s fierce strike saved well by Tatarusanu, but Comoros international Faiz Selemani was the quickest to react to tap in his fourth goal of the RSL campaign.
Al Hazem should have quickly doubled their lead nine minutes later. Al Thani, who was often at the heart of everything good for the visitors, clipped a perfect ball into the path of Selemani who had beaten the offside trap; bearing down at the Abha goal the former K.V. Kortrijk man should have slotted his shot into the corner, but lacked the composure in the vital moment. Tatarusanu pulled off the save to keep his side in the contest.
With 78 minutes on the clock, Abha levelled in stunning fashion. Polish midfielder Krychowiak struck a sweet half-volley which alluded keeper Dahmen and nestled into the top corner.
The hosts pushed for a late winner, and could have perhaps had all three points had Cameroonian attacker Karl Toko Ekambi not had a 92nd-minute header skip just wide. Both teams had to therefore settle for a share of the spoils, as they each look to pull themselves out of the RSL relegation zone.
ASM on fire as Al Ahli brush aside Al Fayha 4-0
Allan Saint-Maximin racked up a hat-trick of assists as Al Ahli produced a blistering first-half display to close the gap on second-placed Al Nassr to just three points with a comprehensive 4-0 away win at Al Fayha.
Backed by passionate away support at Prince Faisal bin Fahd Stadium, the Jeddah giants immediately clicked into gear. Within the space of minutes, Riyad Mahrez picked out Al Ahli skipper Franck Kessie from two identical corner kicks only to be denied by keeper Vladimir Stojkovic.
Then, with only 10 minutes on the clock, Al Ahli had their deserved lead. Saint-Maximin provided a perfect cross for Feras Al Buraikan who headed home his 100th goal in the RSL.
Al Fayha thought they were level when a cross fell to Fashion Sakala at the back post, but his thumping strike was smothered by Edouard Mendy to the delight of the travelling fans.
Soon enough, Al Ahli had their second of the contest thanks to the work of Saint-Maximin, his perfect clipped cross at the back post met by the head of right-back Ali Majrashi for his first goal of the season.
Al Ahli were in the ascendancy and wrapped up a perfect start with a third goal 30 minutes into the contest. Saint-Maximin grabbed yet another assist as he cut the ball back to Al Buraikan, who gleefully dinked the ball over Stojkovic for his second goal of the evening.
Things went from bad to worse for the hosts just before the break, when Abdulrahman Al Safri bundled down Kessie in the penalty box. Mahrez stepped up to smash the ball down the middle to hand Al Ahli a commanding 4-0 lead.
Al Fayha desperately tried to get back into the contest, but in truth Al Ahli’s quality in the first half was enough to secure a deserved win. Not for the first time, Mendy dived at the feet of striker Sakala, which was greeted with a fervent roar from the Al Ahli fans.
🅰️🅰️🅰️— Al-Ahli Saudi Club (@ALAHLI_FCEN) December 14, 2023
3️⃣ assists from the magician tonight 🪄 pic.twitter.com/WcGvh9tvzC
Substitute Roberto Firmino did have a late chance to make it 5-0, but the former Liverpool star thumped his effort over the bar from close-range. After a huge win, Al Ahli will be hoping to rack up back-to-back victories when they take on Al Hazem in Matchweek 18.