Al Fateh edge past Al Ettifaq, Al Shabab eke out derby win

Zelarayan on the spot as Al Fateh see off Al Ettifaq

Lucas Zelarayan struck 10 minutes from time for Al Fateh to continue their upturn in fortunes with a 1-0 victory over Al Ettifaq on Wednesday night.

Backed by vocal support at the Al Fateh Club Stadium, the home side made their intentions clear as early as the second minute, when winger Othman Al Othman saw his curling effort palmed away by Al Ettifaq goalkeeper Paulo Victor.

Slaven Bilic’s men had clearly resolved to make a fast start, with Zelarayan sent a looping shot that flew past the post.  Then, Al Othman had his second chance of the evening when Cristian Tello picked out the Saudi Arabian, but his first-time shot was well gathered by Brazilian Victor.

Al Fateh pressed for an opener and thought they had broken the deadlock five minutes into the second half. Zelarayan arched a dangerous corner to the near post, which looked to be creeping into the net. However, Al Ettifaq striker Moussa Dembele was in the right place to clear the ball off the line.

Steven Gerrard’s side, though, were comprehensively outplayed and didn't register a shot on target during the contest. Still, in the final 15 minutes, they spurned a chance to go ahead. Demarai Gray pushed into the box and passed the ball to right-back Radhi Al Otaibi, who drilled a cross to the back post. Winter signing Karl Toko Ekambi slid in, only to miss the ball by inches.

Al Othman was a constant threat for Al Fateh and, deservedly, had a decisive say in the winner. Hugging the right goalline, he beat two defenders before smashing the ball into a packed penalty area. After a series of fortunate deflections for the hosts, Zelarayan got the final touch to send the home crowd into raptures.

The win for Al Fateh means that they leapfrog Al Ettifaq into sixth place in the Roshn Saudi League table.

Al Shabab edge out Al Riyadh in tight encounter

Al Shabab picked up a morale-boosting win as they eked past local rivals Al Riyadh 1-0 on Wednesday.

Al Riyadh, in their maiden season in the RSL, are fighting for survival at the bottom of the table, and could have emphatically opened the scoring 10 minutes in. However, Fahad Al Rashidi’s audacious long-range effort just tipped over by Al Shabab goalkeeper Mustafa Malayekah.

The hosts crafted their first chance of note on the 15-minute mark, Nawaf Al Saadi curving a shot from outside of the box, only for Martin Campana to get down quickly to grasp the ball.

Al Shabab were starting to control the encounter and eventually found the back of the net in the 33rd minute. Defender Romain Saiss launched a ball into the box, which inadvertently came off the chest of Al Riyadh defender Khalid Al Shuwayyi and found its way into the bottom corner.

Al Shabab manager Vitor Pereira elected to bring on Yannick Carrasco at half-time, the Belgian soon making a noticeable difference to his team’s attacking play. Moments after the restart, the former Atletico Madrid winger tricked his way through the Al Riyadh backline before watching as his right-footed strike skewed wide of the post.

Yet, on the hour, Al Riyadh spurned a golden opportunity to level the game. Andre Gray latched onto an Abdullah Al Khaibari through ball, but the Jamaican international’s subsequent volley flew high over the bar when more composure was needed.

Deep into stoppage time, Al Riyadh could have stolen a point against the run of play. Al Khaibari produced a corner which fell to substitute Mohammed Al Aqeel, who smashed the crossbar with his half-volley – although it did look easier to score.

Al Shabab, 11th in the standings, will be delighted with the victory and will be looking to put together back-to-back wins for only the second time this season when they take on Al Tai next time out.

As for Al Riyadh, they sit 14th, three points from the relegation places ahead of Saturday’s tricky away task at Al Ettifaq.