Malcom grabs brace for Al Hilal, last-gasp Laporte strike earns Al Nassr win

Malcolm at the double as Al Hilal roll on against Al Khaleej

Malcom grabbed a brace to help Roshn Saudi League leaders Al Hilal rack up a 31st consecutive victory with an impressive 4-1 win at Al Khaleej on Friday.

It was a frenetic start at the Prince Mohamed bin Fahd Stadium as Ibrahim Sehic gifted Al Hilal the opener. On seven minutes, the Al Khaleej goalkeeper completely lost his bearings and passed the ball to opposition striker Saleh Al Shehri, who turned his effort into an empty net.

Just two minutes later, though, Al Khaleej drew level. Fabio Martins had plenty of time and space to find the head of Mohamed Sherif, the Egyptian planting his header past birthday boy Yassine Bono.

Al Shehri should perhaps have had a second goal of the evening in the 38th minute. Al Khaleej failed to clear the danger, and Malcom was able to pick out his attack partner. Despite a delicate touch from Al Shehri, the ball just trickled past the post.


Moments later, Al Hilal had the goal that their hard work deserved with a trademark counter. Al Khaleej looked poised to score, but after winning back possession, Sergej Milinkovic-Savic played a decisive through ball to Malcom. The Brazilian showed a good turn of pace before sliding the ball into the bottom corner.

Malcom hadn't finished there and put Al Hilal 3-1 up with a spectacular volley three minutes into the second half. Full-back Saud Abdulhamid curled a cross to the back post, and the summer signing was on hand to slam the ball home for his 13th goal of the RSL campaign. 

Malcom then thought he sealed his hat-trick having traded a one-two with substitute Abdullah Al Hamdan before rounding Sehic and tapping the ball into the net. However, the offside flag quickly halted the celebrations.

Al Khaleej goalkeeper Sehic capped off a miserable evening by conceding a penalty deep into injury time. Al Hamdan put the gloss on the win with a devilish Panenka.

Al Hilal will now switch their attention to the Saudi Super Cup in Abu Dhabi and next week’s semi-final against Al Nassr. Al Khaleej, meanwhile, will be looking to get back on track when they take on Al Taawoun in two weeks’ time.

Late show from Laporte allows Al Nassr to see off Damac

Aymeric Laporte scored in the 91st minute as a much-changed Al Nassr side edged out Damac 1-0 on Friday evening.

Even without the in-form Cristiano Ronaldo in the starting line-up, Al Nassr started brightly at the Prince Sultan bin Abdul Aziz Stadium. In the third minute, defender Ali Lajami latched onto Abdulrahman Ghareeb’s corner, only for his effort to bounce inches wide.

Damac, though, are without a win in their past three RSL encounters and failed to really make an impact in the final third. Nicolae Stanciu’s tame header was their only chance on target in the first half, an effort that left coach Cosmin Contra frustrated in the stands.

Just after the half hour, Marcelo Brozovic knocked a dangerous free-kick to the back post, which found Laporte. Yet the finish was distinctively lacking from the Spanish international.
In the second half, Al Nassr manager Luis Castro elected to change things up with Sultan Al Ghannam and Sadio Mane coming on. The Senegal international nearly made an immediate impact as his through ball found the run of Meshari Al Nemer, but the youngster skewed his chance inches wide.

Ronaldo entered the fray on 65 minutes, and the Portuguese star quickly made his mark. Racing to keep the ball in play on the byline, he shifted the ball from his left to right foot and picked out Ghareeb, who smashed the crossbar from just five yards out.

Still, the presence of Portugal international pushed Al Nassr to new heights in the closing stages. In the 85th minute, Ronaldo poked the ball past Damac goalkeeper Moustapha Zeghba for what looked a certain goal, but Damac defender Abdelkader Bedrane cleared the ball off the line.


Al Nassr eventually got their goal - in the first minute of injury-time. Brozovic supplied the corner, prompting Laporte to leap above a crowd of Damac players to secure his side’s fourth consecutive victory in the RSL.

Sitting second in the RSL, 12 points behind Al Hilal, Al Nassr will turn their attention to the Saudi Super Cup clash against their Riyadh rivals.

Mailson impressive as Al Taawoun come away from Al Ittihad with point

Reigning champions Al Ittihad were held at home by Al Taawoun to remain ahead of their opponents in the standings.

Marcelo Gallardo’s men thought they had gone ahead early on when Romarinho was fouled in the area by Al Taawoun defender Andrei Girotto. Abderrazak Hamdallah stepped up, but his effort was well saved by reigning RSL Goalkeeper of the Month Mailson.

Perhaps spurred on by the missed penalty, the hosts started to create chances. First, Jota smartly played the ball to Hamdallah, who composed himself before his fierce drive hit the side-netting.

The Moroccan completed a trio of missed chances on the half hour mark. After stealing the ball from Al Taawoun midfielder Aschraf El Mahdioui, Hamdallah could only turn his chance wide.

As the first half came to a close, Al Taawoun grew in confidence and crafted a few opportunities of their own. First, Cristian Guanca smashed a 35-yard effort well over the bar, while Joao Pedro failed to connect with his attempted volley. The ball did fall perfectly into the path of Ahmed Bahusayn, however the Al Taawoun forward sent his shot over the Al Ittihad crossbar.

The second half saw Al Ittihad ramp up the pressure. First, a deep corner found club captain Ahmed Hegazi, whose curled shot was somehow clawed around the post by Mailson. The Brazilian conceded only one goal in all of March, although for their part, Al Ittihad were guilty of poor finishing.

Star forward Karim Benzema had two seemingly perfect chances to break the deadlock for the home side, but on both occasions the Frenchman flew his shot over the crossbar.


Mailson did keep his best save for the very last, after Benzema picked out substitute Hammam Al Hammami on the edge of the Al Taawoun area. The young midfielder’s drilled strike was instinctively pushed away, Mailson ensuring his team came away from Jeddah with an important point.

The result means both sides are locked on 47 points with the same goal difference (+16), with Al Ittihad ahead in fourth place on goals scored. They will now turn focus to Al Wehda in the Saudi Super Cup, while Al Taawoun move onto preparations for a home tie against Al Khaleej on April 18.

Al Ahli strike late to share spoils with Al Wehda

Roger Ibanez came up with a late header for the 10 men of Al Ahli to draw 1-1 at Al Wehda on Friday.

The visitors made their intentions clear from as early as the first minute, when midfielder Sumayhan Al Nabit produced a neat turn in the Al Wehda area, only for his shot to be well gathered by home goalkeeper Munir Mohamedi.

VAR was called into action on the half hour, following a potential handball by Al Ahli defender Abdulbasit Hindi in the area. However, there was an offside in the build-up.

Al Ahli closed the half out on the front foot and created two chances to take the lead. First, Allan Saint-Maximin curled a perfect ball from the left wing to Roberto Firmino, but the former Liverpool man pushed his shot wide. Then, Riyad Mahrez forced Mohamedi into a good save from a 30-yard strike.


Al Wehda opened the scoring only two minutes after the restart against the run of play. Club captain Waleed Bakshween played a fine through-ball to Abdulaziz Noor, who timed his run to perfection before rolling his under the legs of Al Ahli goalkeeper Edouard Mendy. Noor elected not to celebrate against the side he represented as a youngster.

VAR was soon called into action for the second time, with Al Nabit shown a straight red for what initially looked like a rash challenge on Noor. Yet replays showed the midfielder had won the ball, and the red card was downgraded to yellow.

Mahrez continued his personal battle with Mohamedi, this time the Moroccan goalkeeper getting his fingertips onto a free-kick and pushed it over the bar. With 10 minutes remaining, Al Ahli made their task even more difficult as Hindi cynically pulled down Noor on the counter to earn himself a red card.


Despite being a man down, Al Ahli pulled level two minutes later. Mahrez provided the cross from a set-piece and Ibanez planted his header into the bottom corner. It marked Mahrez’s 11th assist of the RSL campaign – lifting him one clear from Ronaldo and Al Hilal’s Ruben Neves at the top of the charts.

Remaining third, Al Ahli now take a lenghty rest before facing Al Hilal in what will prove to be a fascinating Matchday 28 contest on April 19. Al Wehda, meanwhile, stay 12th.