Goals galore as Al Ittihad and Al Taawoun march on, Al Ettifaq and Al Ahli share spoils

Al Ghamdi dazzles as Al Ittihad push past Al Fayha

Roshn Saudi League champions Al Ittihad came from a goal down to register a 3-1 win over Al Fayha on Friday evening to extend their winning streak to three matches.

It didn't take long for the contest to spring into life at the Prince Abdullah Al Faisal Stadium, as Al Ittihad won a penalty on 20 minutes when Al Fayha defender Muhannad Al Qaydhi handled an Ahmed Al Ghamdi cross. After a short VAR check, the penalty was given.

However, not for the first time this season, Karim Benzema failed to convert the spot-kick, Al Fayha goalkeeper Vladimir Stojkovic producing a solid save to deny the former Ballon d'Or winner.

Just five minutes later, it was in fact the visitors who opened the scoring from the penalty spot. Al Ittihad captain Ahmed Hegazi scythed down Henry Onyekuru down in the area, leaving the referee little choice but to award the spot-kick. Abdelhamid Sabiri kept his composure to register his third goal of the RSL campaign.

To their credit, Al Ittihad pushed back immediately and found themselves level on the half hour. Fawaz Al Saqour surged forward from right-back and played a telling ball across the area. Abderrazak Hamdallah was on hand to tap in his 18th goal of the season.

In first-half stoppage time, Benzema came up with a through ball to hand Al Ittihad a deserved lead. Hovering in the Al Fayha box, the former Real Madrid man picked out youngster Al Ghamdi, who nutmegged Saud bin Zaydan before dispatching a right-footed shot past Stojkovic. It was a goal of real maturity for the flourishing 22-year-old.

The second half saw Al Ittihad continue to dominate, and they eventually wrapped up the result in the fourth minute of stoppage time.

Hamdallah dropped deep into midfield to win the ball, beat three Al Fayha defenders before playing a perfect ball into the path of Marwan Al Sahafi. The substitute still had plenty to do but showed a neat turn of pace before calmly slotting past Stojkovic.

The win kept Al Ittihad in fourth but pulled the Jeddah side to within two points of third-placed Al Ahli. The two meet in a derby showdown on Monday.

Moroccans provide magic for Al Raed to secure vital win at Al Okhdood

Al Raed came up with a crucial 3-1 win at fellow strugglers Al Okhdood to give themselves some breathing space from the RSL relegation zone.

The visitors made a dream start at Prince Hathloul Sports City, opening the scoring with only 15 minutes on the clock. Mohamed Fouzair chased down a loose ball before picking out Algerian Amir Sayoud, who laid a pass into the path of Karim El Berkaoui.

The Moroccan bent the ball past Al Okhdood goalkeeper Paulo Vitor for his 10th goal of the RSL campaign.

Moments later, Al Okhdood went level from the penalty spot. Al Raed defender Oumar Gonzalez was guilty of a rash challenge on Saviour Godwin and, after an extensive VAR review, the infringement was confirmed. Andrei Burca stepped up to wrongfoot Al Raed goalkeeper Andre Moreira.

However, just past the half hour, Fouzair provided a moment of inspiration to blast Al Raed ahead. Vitor had cut down Fouzair just outside the penalty area, leaving the Moroccan to dust himself off and take the free-kick. His drilled strike skipped into the bottom right-hand corner and out of the reach of the Vitor.

Al Raed now had the upper hand and could have easily gone in 3-1 up at the break. A quickly taken throw-in fell to El Berkaoui, but his first-time lob was acrobatically pushed away by Vitor.

The visitors pressed for a third and, in the 56th minute, had it. Veteran forward Julio Tavares wrapped up the points with a flicked header from a Mohammed Al Subaie corner.

The win means that Al Raed stay 13th but have opened up a three-point gap on Al Okhdood who remain in 14th, just two points away from the relegation zone.

Al Ettifaq and Al Ahli share spoils in Dammam

Feras Al Buraikan scored at both ends of the pitch as Al Ettifaq and Al Ahli played out a pulsating 2-2 draw on Friday evening.

The expectant crowd at the newly refurbished Al Ettifaq Club Stadium didn't have to wait long for a goal: with eight minutes on the clock, Al Buraikan slid in to turn the ball home from a Riyad Mahrez cross.

It lifted Al Buraikan level with teammate Mahrez with nine RSL goals for Al Ahli this season and took his overall tally for the campaign to 13.

Al Ettifaq, though, soon ramped up the pressure in search of an equaliser. Good work from Karl Toko Ekambi led to Seko Fofana’s first-time effort being well saved by the feet of Al Ahli goalkeeper Abdulrahman Al Sanbi.

In this back-and-forth encounter, Al Ahli winger Allan Saint-Maximin cut in from the left wing only for his searing strike to be pushed away by Paulo Victor.

The link-up play between Toko Ekambi and Fofana would prove to be crucial for Al Ettifaq to draw level deep into first-half stoppage time.

A quickly taken free-kick found Toko Ekambi on the right wing, his instinctive pass found Fofana in the penalty area, and the Cote d'Ivoire international knocked the ball into the bottom corner - much to the delight of manager Steven Gerrard on the sidelines.

In the second half, Al Buraikan scored a second, but this time his effort found the back of his own net. Al Ettifaq had pushed forward, with Abdulrahman Al Obud playing in Moussa Dembele, who was looking to centre the ball to Georginio Wijnaldum. Yet Al Buraikan slid in to divert the cross past Al Sanbi.

Matthias Jaissle’s side started to dominate possession and slowly began to ramp up the pressure on Al Ettifaq. Good play from Saint-Maximin found Al Ammar, however his effort was cleared off the line by Hamdan Al Shamrani. Roberto Firmino’s follow-up effort was closed down by Victor.

In the 88th minute, Mahrez provided his second assist of the contest to pull Al Ahli level. The Algerian star dropped to the edge of the Al Ettifaq area and measured an incisive pass into the path of Al Ammar, who guided the ball into the bottom corner.

In the end, Al Ahli will be frustrated with more dropped points. The night’s results mean Monday’s Jeddah derby carries even more importance.

Al Taawoun swat aside Al Hazem in second-half blitz

Al Taawoun produced a formidable second half to defeat bottom side Al Hazem on Friday, scoring four goals in 14 minutes.

The only chance of note in the first half fell to Al Hazem, despite the hosts dominating possession. As is typically the case, it was the ingenuity of Al Hazem playmaker Toze that could have put his side ahead on 36 minutes. The former FC Porto player sent a free-kick onto the head of Yousef Sami, who really should have done much better with his chance.

In the second half, Toze came up with a dipping, long-distance effort that whizzed just wide of goalkeeper Mailson’s goal. Then, after the hour, Al Taawoun clicked into gear.

Al Hazem failed to clear a Cristian Guanca corner, the ball was recycled to the Argentinian, whose cross found Andrei Girotto. The defender’s volley arrowed into the bottom corner.

Four minutes later, slack defending allowed Al Taawoun to double their advantage when, after a scramble in the Al Hazem area, Abdulfattah Adam stole in to make it 2-0. The concession clearly irked Al Hazem manager Jose Carreno.

Five minutes later, Al Taawoun went 3-0 up. Mohammed Al Kuwaykibi cut in from the right wing, evaded a few challenges, and rifled a shot into the roof of the net.

With fifteen minutes remaining, the home side added a fourth, with Adam grabbing his second of the evening. Substitute Ahmed Bahusayn provided the assist for the Saudi Arabian forward to jink his way past two Al Hazem defenders before finding the corner.

The result ensured Al Taawoun stay fifth place, on 43 points, while Al Hazem remain bottom on 15 points.

Narey the difference as Al Khaleej prevail in feisty clash with Damac

Khaled Narey scored a stunner for Al Khaleej to extend their undefeated streak in the RSL to five matches with a 1-0 win at Damac.

The contest took a while to get going at the Damac Club Stadium, the first chance of note came on the half hour as Al Khaleej attacker Narey lashed a shot wide from a tight angle.

The Togo international has been in inspired form in recent weeks, and quickly turned provider for Fabio Martins. However, his chance was pushed away by keeper Moustapha Zeghba.

Al Khaleej broke the deadlock in spectacular circumstances on 34 minutes. Narey cut in from the right wing before curling a left-footed effort into the top corner and out of the reach of Zeghba. It represented the striker’s sixth goal of the RSL season.

Damac pushed for parity in the second half. Not long after the interval, winger Georges-Kevin N'Koudou provided a perfect cross to the back post, but Abdullah Al Qahtani’s header was well saved by Al Khaleej goalkeeper Ibrahim Sehic.

In the 80th minute, the complexion of the clash changed when VAR intervened to send off Al Khaleej midfielder Jung Woo-young for a forceful challenge on Tarek Hamed.

The referee would then dish out six cards in the closing moments, with both teams eventually down to 10 men when Damac left-back Sanousi Hawsawi was handed a straight red for lashing out at Martins deep into stoppage time.

The result means Al Khaleej move into 10 place, on 31 points, while Damac remain seventh, three points better off.