Ronaldo nets hat-trick to close on record, Carrasco stars for surging Al Shabab

Ronaldo stars yet again as Al Nassr hit Al Wehda for six

Cristiano Ronaldo notched up a fourth hat-trick of a remarkable goal-scoring season as his Al Nassr side ruthlessly dispatched Al Wehda 6-0 on Saturday evening.

Ronaldo had a chance to open his account in the very first minute, when Sadio Mane squared the ball but, somewhat inexplicably, Al Nassr’s captain sent the ball flying wide of the Al Wehda goal.

However, it wouldn't take long before Ronaldo found the back of the net. On five minutes, Al Wehda goalkeeper Munir Mohamedi’s poor clearance fell at the feet of the No.7 and, with a wave of the right boot, Al Nassr went 1-0 up.

Al Nassr and Ronaldo quickly doubled their advantage. Marcelo Brozovic provided the cross from the left wing, Ronaldo outmuscled two Al Wehda defenders at the back post, and nodded home his 31st goal of the RSL season. 

Al Wehda then thought they had cause to celebrate when Odion Ighalo’s shot crept under the arms of Al Nassr goalkeeper David Ospina. That joy would be short lived, though, as the Nigerian striker had just about ventured offside before receiving the ball.

Soon enough, Al Nassr grabbed a third. In the 18th minute, Mane provided a delightful long ball to Otavio who took a touch on the run before deftly clipping the ball over Mohamedi. It marked the Portugal international’s eighth goal of the RSL campaign.

Otavio could soon have easily grabbed a second goal had he not been denied by the woodwork. Sultan Al Ghannam’s overlapping run picked out the former Porto playmaker, but his sliding effort smacked against the post.

Moments later, Al Wehda smashed the crossbar themselves, when Saudi Arabian winger Abdulaziz Noor rose highest to head the ball, which had RSL goalkeeper of the month Ospina well beaten.

Sadio Mane struck the fourth goal of the game as the first half came to a close. The Senegal international traded a smart one-two with Otavio and exhibited fine close control to hold off two defenders to then shoot early. Seemingly caught off guard, Mohamedi simply could not stop the ball.

Inevitably, Ronaldo registered his hat-trick in the 52nd minute. Mane sent in the cross and the enigmatic forward did the rest, timing his run to perfection before stabbing a left-footed strike into the net. 

The Portuguese star received a standing ovation as he came off with 10 minutes to go, the record for goals in a single RSL season well within sight. With 32, Ronaldo sits two back from Abderazzak Hamdallah’s unprecedented mark.

Al Nassr continued to press and ended the contest on a high with their sixth and final goal, as two substitutes combined in the 88th minute. Youngster Meshari Al Nemer charged into the Al Wehda area and, after his effort cannoned off the base of the post, Mohammed Al Fatil was on hand to thump home the rebound for his first goal of the RSL season.

Second-placed Al Nassr remain nine points behind first placed Al Hilal, who have a game in hand. As for Al Wehda, they are without a victory in their past four RSL outings and thus remain 12th in the standings.

Al Shabab continue undefeated streak with Al Raed victory

Goals in the second half from Carlos Junior and Yannick Carrasco ensured that Al Shabab stretched their undefeated run to five RSL games with a comfortable 2-0 win against Al Raed.

The encounter at Al Shabab Club Stadium took some time to warm up, with Carrasco coming close to taking the lead with a 30-yard free-kick that flashed just wide of Andre Moreira’s goal - the only chance of real note for either side in the first half.

Al Shabab began the second half brightly and should have been ahead five minutes. Carlos Junior did well to cut down an errant pass in midfield and closed in on the Al Raed goal, picking out Carrasco, who was stationed on the penalty spot.

However, the snapshot from the Belgian flew over the crossbar after a last-ditch challenge from Al Raed defender Mamadou Loum. For all their attacking intent, the hosts didn't have a goal for their efforts, but that all changed thanks to a team goal of exceptional quality in the 55th minute.

After carefully playing the ball around the Al Raed area, the ball was shuttled to Hussain Al Qahtani in midfield, who sent a diagonal ball to Hamad Al Yami, who headed the ball into the path of Carlos Junior. The Brazilian took the ball on the bounce and arrowed his strike into the top corner firmly out of the reach of Andre Moreira.

VAR was called into action as Al Shabab defender Iago Santos clattered into Mohammed Al Dossary with a rough challenge; after a quick review the referee elected to dish out a yellow card, much to the frustration of the Al Raed players.

With 10 minutes left, Al Shabab put the match beyond any doubt. Romain Saiss knocked the ball in his own half to Carrasco, who dribbled through the middle of the park before unleashing a fierce strike into the bottom corner. It was a fine individual goal from the RSL’s player of the month for April.

Deep into stoppage-time, Al Raed were reduced to 10 men when Loum picked up a second yellow for a foul on Vitinho. With the win, Al Shabab move up to sixth, while Al Raed remain 13th, only three points above the relegation zone.

Al Tai and Al Khaleej off target to split the difference in Ha’il

Al Tai missed out on an opportunity to climb out of the RSL relegation zone on Saturday as they played out a 0-0 draw with Al Khaleej.

It’s getting tight at the foot of the RSL standings with only five points separating Al Tai in 17th and Al Wehda all the way up in 12th. Every point at this stage of the season is therefore vital, so Al Tai coach Leonardo Ramos will be frustrated his side couldn't grab three points on home turf.

With 15 minutes on the clock at the Prince Abdulaziz bin Musa’ed Stadium, Al Tai crafted a perfect chance to open the scoring. Salman Al Moasher eventually missed the opportunity, but the goal would not have stood after Rakan Al Shamlan had strayed offside from Virgil Misidjan’s through ball.

Chances were at a premium as Alfa Semedo drilled a long-range effort well wide a minute later. Al Khaleej, it seemed, were prepared to sit deep and defend for large swathes of the contest.

With the first half coming to a close, Al Khaleej defender Lisandro Lopez got his head onto Pedro Rebocho corner, but it went well over to neatly sum up the attacking intent of the Saihat side.

The second half saw a little more in terms of offensive purpose. On the hour, Al Tai defender Enzo Roco provided a remarkable recovery run and interception to deny Al Khaleej striker Abdulla Al Salem from scoring a certain goal on the counter.

Then, in the 64th minute, Bernard Mensah spurned the game’s best chance. So often the star performer for Al Tai this season, the Ghanaian jinked around two Al Khaleej defenders before unleashing a right-footed drive against the upright.

Al Tai piled on the pressure in search of a goal. Striker Marko Dugandzic’s his powerful header was tipped over by Al Khaleej goalkeeper Ibrahim Sehic, while at the other end, Khaled Narey spurned a huge chance with the goal at his mercy.

Ivo Rodrigues’ cross was palmed into the path of the Togo international striker by Al Tai goalkeeper Victor Braga, but Narey could only smash the ball over from a few yards out.

In the match’s final act, Al Khaleej had two opportunities to win it. First, Braga supplied an instinctive save to push away Mohamed Sherif’s volley and, as the ball spilled to Narey, a last-gasp interception from Al Tai defender Robert Bauer secured the point.

The draw means Al Tai drop to 17th place but are still a point from safety with four games remaining. As for Al Khaleej, they remain in 11th, on 36 points.