Ospina: "We had a difficult few weeks, but today we gave our best and have been rewarded”

Al Hilal’s winning streak continued with a late goal from Michael sealing a 2-1 win over Damac to keep their lead at the top of the table at 12 points.

Elsewhere, Al Nassr returned to winning ways against Al Ahli in front of a mammoth crowd in Jeddah, while there were also important wins for Al Ittihad and Al Shabab in a round that saw four of the nine matches end in a draw.

As is always the case, there was plenty said in the aftermath, and here is the best of the reaction to Matchweek 24.

Al Ittihad’s excellent league form since they returned from the mid-season break continued with a 4-2 win over Al Fateh - making it five wins in six for Marcelo Gallardo’s side. Portuguese winger Jota found the back of the net for just the second time this season, but was quick to praise a teammate for teeing him up.

“I would say that this is 99 percent of the goal to [N’Golo] Kante. All the praise to him, he did an amazing play, and then I was just in the right space to finish it. So all praise to Kante he did an amazing job.”

Al Nassr returned to winning ways with an important 1-0 victory over Al Ahli in an action-packed game in front of 52,037 fans in Jeddah. David Ospina was back between the sticks for only the second time this year, and said his side deserved the three points from a tough encounter.

“It was a difficult game. Before the kick-off we knew it was going to be hard as Ahli are a big team with great players. But at the end I think we deserved the win. We really worked hard for this victory. We had a difficult few weeks, but we are professional players with lots of experience, too. Losing happens in football, but the most important thing is to keep training and today we gave our best and we’ve been rewarded.”

It was a great weekend for Al Nassr as their women’s team secured back-to-back SAFF Women’s Premier League titles, and their men’s team coach, Luis Castro, started his post-match press conference by paying tribute to the women’s team for their fantastic achievement.

“My first message is for the Al Nassr women’s team. They were crowned league champions today [and] this makes us proud to belong to Al Nassr, because Al Nassr are one family and the success of any Al Nassr team is a cause for celebration for us all.”

On the other side, Al Ahli coach Matthias Jaissle was disappointed his side couldn’t deliver for the enormous crowd that gathered and delivered a stirring pre-match tifo display for his side.

“We are all disappointed and frustrated as well, because when you enter the pitch and you see the atmosphere with our fans, we really had the approach to give something back - at least one point, if not three points. That was our goal today. But if you are facing a team like Al Nassr, everyone needs to be 100 percent, everyone needs to play on their limit, and unfortunately, we couldn’t do that today and we lost.”

Habib Diallo made it two goals in as many games for Al Shabab as they returned to the winner’s circle with a 3-0 triumph over Al Hazem. However, Diallo said collective success is what he most cares about.

“We can say it was a good game - we managed to earn the three points. I’ve scored for two games in a row, that’s great, but I’m here for the team and the coach trusts me. We work for these kinds of games and to be back up the table.”

Abha made it two wins from their past three to keep alive their survival hopes, but their coach, Pitso Mosimane, was not happy with his team’s overall performance.

“To be honest, out of five games that I’ve been here, it’s one game that we did not play very well. We lost to Ettifaq, but we played better. But it’s football and if you look at the score of the Ettifaq game you’ll say, ‘what are you talking about, you lost 3-0?’ But today was the worst performance we had. But at this point in time, who cares about the good performance? If you win, you win and take the three points, and the rest we’ll solve after.”