"It was really important to start this final sprint with a win and a performance.”

Al Ittihad kept the pressure on Jeddah rivals, Al Ahli, in Matchweek 28 with an important 3-2 win against Al Hazem, who remain mired at the foot of the table.

Elsewhere, Al Taawoun’s AFC Champions League hopes took a hit and Abha dropped back into the relegation zone after a heavy loss to Al Shabab.

With the headline clash between Al Ahli and Al Hilal postponed, there was still no shortage of talking points. This is the best of what was said around the league over the past week.

Al Hazem fought from two goals down against Al Ittihad, only to concede a 96th-minute own goal to deal a blow to their hopes of survival. Captain Toze, was left frustrated afterwards, saying his team deserved something from the game.

“I think frustration, because we did a very good game against a tough opponent like Ittihad and I think we deserved more. I think that a draw would be fair, and I thought we could win the game. To lose in the last minute, it was very hard for us.

"I’m going to have to go lift my team because we did a very good game, we fought until the end, but we are a little bit sad because we deserved more.”

A quickfire brace from Sadio Mane helped Al Nassr turn a 0-1 deficit into a 3-1 win to make it five wins in a row - something the Senegalese international credited with a second-half coaching tactical tweak.

“In general, we deserved to win tonight. The assistant coach made a small change, and then he asked us to play even faster, especially between the lines and combine, so that’s what we tried to do and then there was space, even for my goal, and we took advantage and won the match.”   

Al Shabab made it three wins from their past five with a thumping 5-0 win over Abha ahead of a huge clash with Al Ittihad this weekend. Moroccan defender Romain Saiss praised the performance as one of their best of the season.

“We’re satisfied with the match, with the win, with our performance in which we didn’t concede any goals. It’s a well-rounded 90-minute match. It’s been a while since that happened to us. We scored five goals, we were effective offensively, defensively we didn’t away many chances. We kept the clean sheet until the end.

"It’s very good for the future because we’ve got some important matches coming up, some complicated ones, especially next week. So it was really important to start this final sprint with a win and accomplished performance.”          

Al Fateh bounced back from a shock loss to Abha with an important 3-1 win over Al Raed to climb back into the top six. Coach Slaven Bilic was thrilled with his team’s start but said they could’ve made the game easier for themselves.

“It was a good three points for us, very important. We opened the game very good, scored a couple of goals [early] and then of course everything is easier. But as I say in England, to kill the game off and put the game to bed you need that third goal.

"We had a beautiful chance from the penalty spot. Unfortunately, we didn’t score and then we were always missing that goal to kill the game off. But,overall, a very, very deserved three points and we move on.”

Al Ettifaq couldn’t find a way past a stubborn Al Wehda outfit, drawing 0-0 despite enjoying more possession and more shots. Coach Steven Gerrard cut a frustrated figure after the game and rued their lack of cutting edge in the final third.

“I think we created enough in the first half to win the game. We obviously didn’t take those moments and chances, we haven’t found the moments of quality that’s needed to score the important goal and breakthrough. So over the course of the 90 minutes, the only thing missing was the final pass and final bit of quality to win the game, so we’re disappointed with the outcome of the game.

“Since we came back after the winter break, we’ve played nine games, and we have the best defensive record in the league. So that tells me we’re doing a lot of good work, good organisation, good structure. But it’s clear we need to score more goals. We need to be creative. We need to take more chances for us to progress and improve as a team.”