Abha escape relegation zone, Sakala brace sees off Al Okhdood

Abha finally out of relegation zone with win over Al Fateh

Abha breathed life back into their bid to avoid relegation from the Roshn Saudi League by defeating Al Fateh 2-1 at home on Sunday evening.

Pitso Mosimane’s side, who went into the round second from bottom, got off to the best possible start at the Prince Sultan bin Abdulaziz Sports City Stadium, when influential midfielder Grzegorz Krychowiak put them ahead on six minutes.

Fahad Al Jumayah found his teammate with a clever headed pass over the Al Fateh defence, leaving Krychowiak to take a couple of expert touches and then send the ball into the bottom corner. It marked the Pole's seventh RSL goal of the season.

Abha had two chances to increase their lead around the half hour, although Al Fateh goalkeeper Jacob Rinne saved from both Meshal Al Mutairi and Uros Matic.

The hosts were pegged back not long into the second half. On 54 minutes, Al Fateh midfielder Tawfiq Buhimed laid off a pass to Cristian Tello, with the former Barcelona man curling home.

However, the visitors’ joy was short-lived, when only three minutes later, Al Mutairislid in Krychowiak as he broke beyond the Al Fateh defence, before finishing past Rinne.

Al Fateh pushed for an equaliser, with Saad Al Shorafa and Tello firing off target. Ultimately, Abha held on for a first RSL victory in four matches. It proved the perfect response to the 8-0 defeat to Al Nassr last time out, and lifted Abha out of the relegation zone for the first time since November.

They now sit one place and one point above the drop, while Al Fateh are in seventh.

Sakala at the double as Al Fayha ease past Al Okhdood

Fashion Sakala continued his fine 2023-24 campaign with two goals for Al Fayha in a straightforward 3-0 victory at home to Al Okhdood.

The Zambian struck his 12th and 13th goals of the RSL season, scoring in either half from a pair of Abdelhamid Sabiri assists, as Al Okhdood slipped into the bottom three.

The hosts had to wait only 16 minutes to edge in front at Al Maima’a Sports City Stadium, when Sabiri showed some incredible skill to beat three opposition players before laying off the ball to Sakala. Sakala finished from the angle on the right, although visiting goalkeeper Abdulaziz Al Awardi really should have done better.

Although dominant in possession, Al Fayha did not double their advantage until 10 minutes into the second half and, once again, it came from the same link-up as their opener.

This time, Sabiri played in Sakala with a sublime outside-of-the-foot pass, allowing the striker to first round Al Awardi and then chop the ball past a despairing Al Okhdood defender to give his team a comfortable lead.

It was fitting that Sakala and Sabiri connected once more to round off the evening’s work for Al Fayha, with the former releasing the latter two minutes from time, and the Moroccan curling a beautiful effort inside the post.

The win sees Al Fayha sit ninth in the table, with Al Okhdood now down in 16th, one spot inside the relegation zone.

Al Raed triumph to pile pressure on Al Hazem at bottom

Al Raed gave themselves some serious breathing space towards the foot of the standings with a 2-0 win at home to Al Hazem on Sunday.

Goals either side of half-time from Julio Tavares condemned the RSL's bottom club to a 15th defeat of the season, while inching his own club closer to safety.

Al Raed had already gone close through Firas Al Ghamdi and Tavares when the Cape Verde striker put the home side 1-0 up on 35 minutes. Khalid Al Subaie supplied the cross from the right, with Tavares nodding into the net from close range for this fifth RSL goal of the campaign.

Al Hazem, who had chances of their own via Yousef Al Mozairib and Toze, were left to rue those spurned opportunities right after the break, when Mohammed Salem sent a cross into the visitors’ penalty area. Tavares again made no mistake with his head.

The Al Raed frontman had a couple of chances to seal his hat-trick, while Igor Jovicevic’s men could have had a few more goals only for a combination of wayward finishing and defiant work from Al Hazem goalkeeper Aymen Dahmen.

The defeat stretched Al Hazem’s winless run in the RSL to 11, meaning they languish in last place, seven points from safety. Al Read, meanwhile, stay 13th, but crucially are six points above the relegation zone.