Talisca strikes late in Al Nassr derby delight, Salaka wonder goal helps Al Fayha to win

Sakala brace guides 10-man Al Fayha past Abha

Fashion Sakala notched a crucial double that included a sensational solo strike as the 10 men of Al Fayha edged out Abha 3-2 in a thrilling RSL encounter on Sunday night.

The home side got off to the worst possible start when, after only three minutes, they had Hussain Al Shuwaish sent off. The defender had initially picked up a yellow card for a challenge on Grzegorz Krychowiak, but VAR intervened, and the referee overturned his decision to brandish a straight red, leaving Al Fayha with a mountain to climb.

VAR was then called into action for a second time as Abha took the lead from the penalty spot just before the half hour. Abha defender Ibrahim Al Zubaidi was hauled down in the area, VAR suggested looking at the incident and, on review, awarded a penalty for the Asir side. Krychowiak stepped up and tucked away the spot-kick for his fourth goal of the RSL campaign.

Al Fayha needed something special and found themselves level just seconds into first-half stoppage time. Moroccan Abdelhamid Sabiri stood over a dangerous free-kick on the left wing and whipped a shot that spun into the top corner, leaving goalkeeper Ciprian Tatarusanu rooted to the spot.

Despite having the numerical disadvantage, Al Fayha began to turn the screw in the second half. On 70 minutes, Ghislain Konan was at the heart of his side's second goal of the evening.

After a surging run down the wing, the Ivornian cut the ball into the path of Sakala who, having skipped around a defender, unleashed a ferocious right-footed strike that flew into the back of the net.

Sakala, though, was not done there and effectively sealed the contest in the 89th minute with a goal of real quality. Springing away on the counter, Abdulrahman Al Safari launched a hopeful ball up to the frontman, who nodded forward and outran his marker.

Bearing down on goal, Ziyad Al Sahafi tried to halt Sakala, but instead he feinted past the defender before drilling an unstoppable left-footed strike that arrowed into the top corner.

Credit to Abha, they did reduce the arrears in the sixth minute of stoppage time through substitute Ahmed Abdu. However, it proved to be the final act of a rollercoaster contest at Al Majma’ah Sports City.

Talisca at the double as Al Nassr see off Al Shabab in rocking Riyadh derby

Anderson Talisca scored a brace and Cristiano Ronaldo grabbed a goal from the penalty spot to help Al Nassr close the gap to league leaders Al Hilal to four points with a 3-2 win against Riyadh rivals Al Shabab on Sunday evening.

The opening exchanges at a packed Al Shabab Club Stadium were marked by two clear-cut chances for Croatians, one for each team.

First, Al Nassr midfielder Marcelo Brozovic launched a stinging strike from the edge of the box, which brought out a reactive save from goalkeeper Mohammed Al Absi.

Then, Al Shabab had their own effort when a well-worked corner made its way to winter signing Ivan Rakitic, although his swerving effort was dutifully palmed away by Waleed Abdullah.

However, it was to be a tale of two penalties in the first half at the newly renovated venue. Al Shabab conceded first, when on 20 minutes Sadio Mane smashed a strike towards goal, the ball coming off the arm of Iago Santos.

After a VAR review, Ronaldo tucked away his 22nd goal from only 20 RSL appearances this season.

Al Shabab, though, found parity from the spot deep into first-half injury-time. Aymeric Laporte scythed down Carlos Junior, leaving the referee little choice but to award a spot-kick. Yannick Carrasco stepped up to tie the contest at half-time.

Yet the very first act of the second half saw Al Nassr pull ahead once more. Otavio played the perfect ball into the run of Talisca, who needed a touch to settle himself before his left-footed drive found the back of the net via the palms of Al Absi.

Al Shabab manager Vitor Pereira, the hosts’ new man on the touchline, has no doubt already improved his side, and they ramped up the pressure in the hunt for an equaliser.

Carrasco came closest in the 63rd minute, his fizzing shot just glancing past the Al Nassr post. Moments later, the home side had their leveller; after winning possession high up the pitch, the ball was fed to Habib Diallo on the wing, with the Senegal star drilling a centre across goal. Junior was on hand for a simple tap-in.

Locked in a title fight with Al Hilal at the top of the RSL standings, Al Nassr would have known that nothing other than a win would be enough if they are to keep pace with their Riyadh rivals.

And, within a spirited atmosphere on unfamiliar territory, they found inspiration from a familiar source.

With five minutes left to play, midfielder Abdullah Al Khaibari found Talisca with a perfect pass, leaving the Brazilian to do the rest. The forward contrived, at pace, to precisely poke his finish beyond Al Absi to hand Al Nassr all three points. It lifted Talisca to 13 goals for the RSL season – only three players have netted more.

Al Shabab were then reduced to 10 men late on, substitute Abdullah Radif seeing red after picking up two yellow cards in the final six minutes of stoppage time.

As it is, Al Nassr keep the heat on Al Hilal. Up next, an assignment against bottom-of-the-table Al Hazem.Β