RSL matchweek 19 round-up

Gray strikes as Al Riyadh end Damac’s winning run

Al Riyadh climbed out of the relegation zone as they ended a four-match winless run with a smash and grab 1-0 victory over Damac at the Prince Faisal bin Fahd Sports City thanks to Andre Gray’s second-half strike.

The Jamaican international’s goal, following a fine overhead pass from veteran Yahya Al Shehri also ended Damac’s five-match winning streak, with the capital club now sitting in 15th place, while Damac remain in fifth despite the defeat.

Al Ettifaq and Al Hazem share the spoils

Steven Gerrard’s Al Ettifaq settled for one point at home against Al Hazem, extending their winless run to eight matches after being held to a 1-1 draw on Thursday.

The Dammam-based side thought they had won the game when winger Demarai Gray controlled Georgino Wijnaldum’s pass inside the box, moving the ball onto his left foot before drilling it into the bottom corner to put them in front with 19 minutes to go.

The hosts’ hopes of a victory dissipated in added time when Al Hazem were awarded a penalty that Toze converted confidently for the equaliser to give the bottom team their sixth point from their last five matches and bring them a step closer to the teams above them.


Al Raed win seven-goal thriller

The pick of RSL matchweek 19 took place at the King Abdullah Sports City in Buraidah where Al Raed and Abha played out a seven-goal thriller with the hosts emerging 4-3 winners.

Hussein Al Ali opened the scoring in the 17th minute following a quick counter-attack. Khalid Al Subaie responded in style just four minutes later, firing home the equaliser on the half-volley following Julio Tavares’ cross from the right.

Al Ali doubled his lead just before the break, taking advantage of an Oumar Gonzalez mistake. Once again Al Raed restored parity quickly after, needing just 12 seconds after the restart to make it 2-2 through Mohammed Fouzair’s fine curled effort.

Al Raed took the lead for the first time on the night as Karim El Berkaoui headed home from Fouzair’s cross in the 50th minute, but Abha made it 3-3 after a Saad Bguir set-piece was met by Fabian Noguera’s header into the back of the net.

With the very last kick of the ball, Al Raed stole the three points as Al Subaie sent a free-kick into the box that was headed by Gonzalez who made amends for his earlier mistake with the all-important winner.

A second win in a row for Al Raed lifts them to 13th place, while Abha remained second-bottom with no wins in their last seven matches.

Al Hilal keep winning

Late goals from Ali Al Bulayhi and Aleksandar Mitrovic helped Al Hilal extend their RSL winning run to 12 games in a row and keep their lead at the top of the table at seven points going into the January break.

Mitrovic thought he had opened the scoring in the 33rd minute when he picked up Salem Al Dawsari’s through pass and beat his compatriot Vladimir Stojkovic but watched the ball bounce off the upright and go behind.

The deadlock at Prince Faisal bin Fahd Sports City was finally broken with just five minutes to go when Ruben Neves sent a diagonal ball into the box from a free-kick. It was headed across by Sergej Milinkovic-Savic for Al Bulayhi who squeezed it home to open the scoring.

In the final seconds of added time, Mitrovic doubled Al Hilal’s lead from the penalty spot, taking his tally for the season to 17 goals. Al Hilal remain unbeaten and reach 53 points while Al Fayha are now two points above the drop zone.

Kessie wins it for Al Ahli

Al Ahli cemented their place in third place of the RSL table, extending their unbeaten streak to seven games with a 1-0 victory over Al Khaleej at Prince Abdullah Al Faisal Sports City in Jeddah on Friday.

Despite a dominant performance from start to finish, Al Ahli were unable to find a way through until deep into added time of the second half when Ivo Rodrigues was penalised for kicking Roger Ibanez inside the penalty box. Franck Kessie stepped up and calmly converted for the winner.

Al Ahli hit the 40-point mark, seven ahead of fourth-placed Al Taawoun, while Al Khaleej lose for the first time in four matches, in tenth place of the table.

Al Fateh and Al Okhdood in stalemate

Slaven Bilic’s Al Fateh continued their resurgence, staying unbeaten for a third consecutive match to move above Al Ittihad into fifth place following a 0-0 draw at Al Fateh Club Stadium on Saturday.

The hosts came within a whisker of opening the scoring in the sixth minute when Mourad Batna curled a free-kick into the box that was met with a diving header from Algerian midfielder Sofiane Bendabka whose finish hit the post.

Al Okhdood had their best chance of the game at the hour-mark when Romanian midfielder Florin Tanase hit an effort from outside the box that beat the opposite goalkeeper but ricocheted off the woodwork.

The result sees the newcomers hit 20 points for the season and climb to 12th place courtesy of collecting seven points from their last three matches.


Ronaldo-inspired Al Nassr hit Al Taawoun for four

Al Nassr came from behind to defeat Al Taawoun 4-1 at King Abdullah Sports City in Buraidah to record their fourth win on the trot, keeping the pressure on leaders Al Hilal with the margin staying at seven points.

Al Taawoun take the lead in the 13th minute when captain Aschraf El Mehdaioui stepped up to take his fourth penalty kick of the season, but for the second time, the Moroccan midfielder was denied, only for the ball to fall back to him to finish into the empty net.

The visitors equalised in the 26th minute through Marcelo Brozovic who finished off a smooth passing move involving Anderson Talisca and Cristiano Ronaldo.

Brozovic turned from scorer to provider in the 35th minute when he delivered a cross from a corner for Aymeric Laporte to head home his side’s second of the night. A fatal mistake from El Mehdaioui allowed Otavio to slot home Al Nassr’s third from close range five minutes into the second half.

Ronaldo capped-off the night with his 54th goal of 2023, adding Al Nassr’s fourth with a well-taken header following Seko Fofana’s cross.

Radif’s goal gets Al Shabab back to winning ways

Al Shabab ended a six-match winless run with a hard-fought 1-0 win at home against Al Wehda to end their year with a win and move to 11th place in the table with 21 points.

It took 85 minutes for the deadlock to be broken as Ever Banega fought his way into the visitors’ penalty box, and an attempt to clear the ball off him saw it fall for Abdullah Radif whose first effort bounced back off the woodwork. The young Saudi international was first to the rebound, firing home to win it for the Riyadh club.