Ronaldo on target as Al Nassr win again, Onyekuru stars for Al Fayha

Onyekuru at the double to return Al Fayha to winning ways

Henry Onyekuru grabbed a brace as Al Fayha arrested a five-match losing streak in the Roshn Saudi League with a 3-1 away win over bottom side Al Hazem.

It had actually started well for the hosts, when Muhammed Badamosi surged down the left wing on nine minutes and picked out Mohammed Al Thani, who finished from close range. After a quick VAR check for offside, the goal was given.

However, Al Fayha needed only three minutes to draw level. Anthony Nwakaeme provided the perfect through pass to Onyekuru, who guided his effort into the bottom corner. Al Hazem goalkeeper Aymen Dahmen got a hand on the ball but was ultimately unable to stop the Nigerian’s shot. 

Nwakaeme came close to putting Al Fayha ahead just after the half hour, but his fierce strike was beaten away by Dahmen at the near post.

Deep in first-half stoppage time, Al Hazem could have easily edged ahead. A slick passing move fell to striker Faiz Selemani, yet Al Fayha goalkeeper Vladimir Stojkovic was quick off his line to smother the shot. 

With 58 minutes on the clock, Al Fayha went 2-1 up. Fresh from winning the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations with Cote d'Ivoire, full-back Ghislain Konan provided the cross, Abdelhamid Sabiri flicked on and, after a few fortunate deflections, Nwakaeme found the back of the net. 

Al Fayha could have soon made it 3-1, but Fashion Sakala’s driven effort was stopped by the feet of Dahmen. The Al Majma’ah based side were relentless in their pursuit for a third, though, and eventually it came 10 minutes from time, thanks to the quick thinking of Nwakaeme.

The Nigerian lofted a perfect ball into the path of compatriot Onyekuru, who surged into the box and, following a helpful deflection, deftly side-footed into the bottom corner to round off the 3-1 victory. With the much-needed win, Al Fayha jumped to 13th in the standings.

Ronaldo and Al Ghannam on song as Al Nassr register fifth straight RSL win

Sultan Al Ghannam provided two assists for Al Nassr to eventually overcome Al Fateh on Saturday night with a 2-1 victory Al Awwal Park.

The hosts, sitting second in the table, set the tone in front of their fans in the early exchanges, as playmaker Otavio clipped the ball up perfectly for Anderson Talisca. However, the Brazilian's attempted bicycle kick flew wide.

Otavio was at the heart of Al Nassr's attacking play and had a decisive say in the opener having flicked the ball into the path of Al Ghannam. The full-back found captain Cristiano Ronaldo, who was hovering by the penalty spot.

The Portuguese star was well set to instinctively arrow the ball into the bottom corner and increase his lead at the top of the 2023-24 RSL scoring charts. The goal marked Ronaldo’s 21st of the season.

Twelve minutes later, it was Al Fateh's time to celebrate, the equaliser coming from a Lucas Zelarayan set-piece. The Armenian international curled a dangerous ball into the box, which was cleared away by Alex Telles, but Al Fateh defender Salem Al Najdi pounced on the rebound and launched a venomous left-footed strike. Al Nassr goalkeeper Raghed Al Najjar got a hand to the ball but could not prevent it from nestling in the net.

Al Nassr needed a reply and came close when Ronaldo hung in the air for age on three separate occasions, but each of his headers missed the target – much to his frustration.

Al Fateh started the second half strongly, with former Barcelona man Cristian Tello seeing his drilled shot blocked by Al Najjar’s feet at the near post. Immediately, the ball fell to Djaniny, whose shot smacked against the post. Zelarayan then put over the home side's bar.

After surviving the second-half barrage, Al Nassr's slick build-up play edged them ahead in the 72nd minute. Ronaldo dropped deep and popped a pass to the right wing, where Al Ghannam was on hand to deliver an inch-perfect, first-time cross to find Otavio. The former Porto man applied the diving header to restore Al Nassr’s lead.

Al Nassr were now in the ascendancy, and really should have gone 3-1 up with the final kick of the contest. Ronaldo seemingly had the goal at his mercy to send a swirling left-footed strike beyond Al Fateh goalkeeper Jacob Rinne, only for substitute Qassem Lajami to be on hand to clear the ball off the line.

Still, the win ensured Al Nassr closed the gap at the summit to four points, although Al Hilal can regain their seven-point advantage when they host Al Raed on Sunday.