Goal-machine Mitrovic stretches Al Hilal lead, while Nkoudou strikes again

Mitro the man as Al Hilal open up a 10-point gap at top of the table

Goals in each half from Saud Abdulhamid and Aleksandar Mitrovic helped unbeaten Al Hilal open up a 10-point lead at the top of the Roshn Saudi League standings with a 2-0 home win against Al Wehda. 

Title rivals Al Nassr will not play this week in the RSL due to Al Ittihad’s commitments in the FIFA Club World Cup, and Al Hilal took full advantage, opening the scoring early in the contest thanks to an emphatic finish from defender Saud Abdulhamid. 

After holding onto possession for a lengthy spell, Al Hilal lost the ball on the edge of the Al Wehda box. Ruben Neves stepped in to win the ball before floating a pass into the path of Abdulhamid, who smashed home on the half-volley for a memorable first goal of the campaign. 

Odion Igalho, formally of Al Hilal, came close to a leveller moments later for Al Wehda when he threw out a knee to latch onto a dangerous cross from Faycal Fajr. However, the effort from the Nigerian clipped the top of the Al Hilal crossbar. 

With the half coming to a close, newly crowned CAF Goalkeeper of the Year Yassine Bono was called into action to claw away a dangerous effort from midfielder Waleed Bakshween. 

Al Wehda continued to press for a goal into the second half. Australian international Craig Goodwin cut in from the wing, but his effort hit the side-netting, while Brazilian playmaker Anselmo crafted a shot through a crowd of players that skimmed wide. 

The RSL leaders ramped up the pressure and, with ten minutes left on the clock, they grabbed their second goal. Malcolm scurried to retrieve a misplaced cross before scooping a ball to the back post, which was met by Mitrovic to head his 15th goal of the season, to extend his scoring record to eight successive RSL games.

He sits second in the scoring charts - only one behind Al Nassr’s Cristiano Ronaldo.

Al Fateh and Al Shabab share the spoils

Al Fateh and Al Shabab had to settle for a point each on Friday evening after a 1-1 draw at the Al Fateh Club Stadium. 

The hosts didn’t have to wait long to break the deadlock, as Armenian international Lucas Zelarayan clipped in a perfect diagonal ball onto the head of Mourad Batna, who nodded past Al Shabab keeper Kim Seung-gyu.

After a sluggish start, Al Shabab eventually sprung into life as the first half came to a close with two quick-fire chances from Fahad Al Muwallad and Hattan Bahebri. Both were comfortably dealt with by Al Fateh keeper Jacob Rinne. 

Igor Biscan’s side improved after the break, Yannick Carrasco cutting inside and hitting a shot goalwards to signal the attacking intent from the side from Riyadh - and it wasn’t long before they had a merited equaliser. 

A dangerous cross aimed at Abdullah Radif awkwardly rebounded off Al Fateh defender Saeed Baattia, leaving Radif with a simple tap-in from five yards for his first goal of the season. 

Igor Biscan Al Shabab coach

Al Shabab pushed for a winner and came close when a quick corner came to Carrasco, but the Belgian’s instinctive swivel and shot was palmed away by Rinne. 

It was Al Fateh who thought they had won a penalty in the closing moments, as Ali Al Masoud was pushed to the ground  by defender Romain Saiss. After initially being awarded by the referee, the decision was rightly overturned by VAR, leaving both sides to share the spoils. 

Nkoudou scores again as Damac win away at Al Raed

Georges Kevin Nkoudou struck yet again to help Damac stretch their undefeated streak to seven games in the RSL with a gritty 1-0 victory away to Al Raed. 

It was a slow burner at King Abdullah Sport City Stadium, but Damac attacker Nkoudou had other ideas in the 41st minute. A raking long ball from Domagoj Antolic found the Cameroonian, who drove at the Al Raed defence before slamming his shot into the corner from distance for his 14th goal of a standout season. 

Damac started the second half of the front foot, and had a glorious chance to double their lead just after the restart. Ahmad Al Zain picked out Nkoudou in plenty of space in the Al Raed box, but the chest control and volley from the in-form forward flew over the bar. 

Al Raed tried to claw their way back into the contest, but were reduced to pot shots for the majority of the second half, although they should have been level had Karim El Berkaoui’s sliding effort not been bundled away by the Damac backline. 

The visitors held on to register a fourth consecutive win in the RSL to push them into sixth place in the standings.