Laporte snatches win for Al Nassr, Al Raed and Al Ettifaq in late, late drama

Al Okhdood thrash Abha 4-0 to move out of relegation zone

Al Okhdood secured a huge win in their quest to beat the drop as they put four past Abha on Saturday evening.

RSL survival specialist Noureddine Zekri has been drafted into the Najran-based club to replace Martin Sevela, and has seemingly worked his magic on a side that had been on a worrying downturn in form.

Al Okhdood underlined their intentions as early as the second minute, when Saviour Godwin cut back the ball to Leandre Tawamba, but his first-time shot flashed just wide.

At the other end, Abha striker Hassan Al Ali saw the ball fall to him from a tight angle, only for Al Okhdood goalkeeper Paulo Vitor to quickly snuff out the chance.

The hosts had been racking up the pressure and, with their fifth corner, deservedly made the breakthrough with five minutes left in the half. Alex Collado provided the cross, which was met by Georgian international defender Solomon Kvirkvelia, who outmanoeuvred his marker before nodding home.

Al Okhdood duly doubled their advantage two minutes into the second half but did have a slice of luck in doing so. Abha defender Abdulelah Al Shammeri really should have dealt with a Vitor clearance, but Yaseen Al Zubaidi raced through and showed plenty of composure to round Abha goalkeeper Ciprian Tatarusanu before scoring from a tight angle. The 21-year-old celebrated his first ever RSL goal with a backflip.

Abha thought they grabbed a lifeline on the hour mark when defender Fabian Noguera was flattened by Vitor to earn his side a penalty. Saad Bguir stepped up, but his effort was well saved by the Brazilian.

With 74 minutes on the clock, Al Okhdood put the game out of Abha’s reach to secure their first victory in eight RSL outings. Nigerian Godwin surged down the left wing and picked out Sebastian Pedroza at the back post, leaving the Colombian to nod home his first goal in the RSL.

Substitute Abdulaziz Al Hatila then put the gloss on the victory in second-half stoppage time, as he latched onto Collado’s through ball, rounded Tatarusanu, and side footed home.

The win could prove to be huge for Al Okhdood, who have now pulled themselves out of the RSL relegation zone - they sit in 15th, on 27 points. Abha, meanwhile, lay two spots below, now two points from safety.

Late drama as Normann grabs a point for Al Raed

Mathias Normann registered his first RSL assist and goal, scoring a 96th-minute equaliser for Al Raed to secure a 2-2 draw with high-flying Al Ettifaq.

The hosts made a fast start at King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Sports City, opening the scoring within 10 minutes. Normann raced onto a loose ball in midfield and pushed over to the right wing before delivering a cross that found the head of Karim El Berkaoui, who nodded in his 11th RSL goal of the season.

Steven Gerrard’s side took a while to get going but started creating chances with the first half coming to a close. First, Al Raed goalkeeper Andre Moreira got down quickly to deny Moussa Dembele’s header from creeping over the line.

Soon after, Scottish international defender Jack Hendry saw his header from an Alvaro Medran corner cleared off the line by El Berkaoui.

Al Ettifaq grew in confidence in the second half as they searched for an equaliser. In the 63rd minute, Medran’s fierce long-range free kick was tipped over the bar by Moreira.

Moments afterwards, Al Raed thought they had won a penalty when El Berkaoui was tripped in the Al Ettifaq area by goalkeeper Paulo Victor. However, after an extensive VAR review, the penalty was rightly chalked off.

For all their hard work, Al Ettifaq eventually found parity on the 70th-minute mark. Medran drifted a dangerous ball into the Al Raed, and Dembele provided the flicked header that somehow went over the line. Moreira, though, should have held onto the ball.

It was in second-half stoppage time when the drama really ramped up. After winning the ball high up the pitch, Al Ettifaq pushed forward, with Dutch international Georginio Wijnaldum playing a delicate through ball to Haroune Camara. The substitute provided the vital touch before Moreira’s boot turned the ball into his own net, seemingly giving the visitors the win.

Yet, credit to Al Raed, they kept their cool and snatched a point in the sixth minute of the additional time. Norwegian Normann calmly chested down a loose ball on the edge of the area, before poking the ball into the bottom corner to hand his side a share of the spoils.

The draw gives Al Read, in 13th, a healthy five-point gap to the relegation places, while Al Ettifaq move up to sixth.

Al Nassr eke past Al Khaleej in Dammam

Aymeric Laporte scored the only goal of the game as Al Nassr secured the victory at Al Khaleej to rack up a sixth consecutive victory in the RSL.

It was a fast start at the Prince Mohammed bin Fahd Stadium in Dammam, which saw a host of offside decisions in quick succession. With only six minutes on the clock, Al Khaleej striker Mohamed Sherif found the back of the net, although the Egyptian’s celebrations were cut short by the offside flag.


Not to be outdone, returning Al Nassr captain Cristiano Ronaldo was also flagged offside as his deft flick struck the crossbar. Not long after, Ronaldo thought he had opened the scoring when he rounded Al Khaleej goalkeeper Ibrahim Sehic, but again the flag was lifted to disallow the goal.

As ever, Ronaldo was among the chances, as he nicked the ball off Al Khaleej defender Mohammed Al Khabrani and looked certain to score. Yet Sehic was quickly off his line to halt the Portuguese star.

The Bosnian goalkeeper continued his battle with Ronaldo deep into first-half stoppage time. This time, he stood tall as the Al Nassr forward looked to clip the ball over him from an Otavio pass. On the hour, yet another offside flag and a diligent stop from Sehic denied Ronaldo as Al Nassr searched for an opener.

Seven minutes later, Al Nassr did just that from a set-piece. Marcelo Brozovic provided the cross, which found Aymeric Laporte unmarked in the box, leaving the Spain international to head home for his fourth RSL goal of the campaign.

Al Khaleej set about scoring an equaliser. First, Al Khabrani saw his header flash over the bar from a Pedro Rebocho corner; seconds later, Sherif’s snapshot was well saved by Al Nassr goalkeeper David Ospina.

Ten minutes from time, Ronaldo and Al Nassr thought they had sealed the result, only for the 2023-24 RSL’s leading scorer to smash his effort into the side-netting.

Nevertheless, a sixth successive victory for second-placed Al Nassr keeps them still in the hunt for the RSL title, even if Al Hilal boast a healthy nine-point lead with a game in hand. As for Al Khaleej, they stay in 11th.