Brozovic strikes late to win it for Al Nassr, Al Riyadh hold Al Taawoun

Honours even between Al Fayha and Al Fateh

Al Fayha and Al Fateh shared four goals in an entertaining Roshn Saudi League encounter in Al Majma'ah on Thursday evening.

The away side underlined their intentions as early as the eighth minute as Mukhtar Ali stole the ball high up the pitch and traded a pass with Djaniny. Al Fayha goalkeeper Vladimir Stojkovic eventually gathered the snapshot from the young midfielder.

While just before the half-hour mark the former Serbian international pulled off a fine save using his feet to deny Al Fateh striker Djaniny from ten yards out.

For all their attacking verve Al Fateh were powerless to concede the first goal of the game just two minutes later. Al Fayha attacker Abdelhamid Sabiri dropped deep, picked up the ball outside the centre circle and measured a pass onto the run of Fashion Sakala.

The Zambian has been in white-hot form in recent weeks, and that run continued as he kept the ball well before drilling the ball past Jacob Rinne. That was his 17th RSL goal of the campaign and marks his highest-ever goalscoring return in his professional career. 

With the first half coming to a close, Al Fayha could have easily doubled their advantage. Nawaf Al Harthi came up with a 35-yard strike that had goalkeeper Rinne rooted to the spot. However, his effort thudded off the crossbar.

Al Fateh came out with renewed vigour in the second half and made it 1-1 just two minutes after the restart. Saeed Baattia made a surging run from right-back and his near post cross was seized upon by Djaniny who stole ahead of his marker before poking the ball home from close range, for a fourth goal in as many RSL outings for the Cape Verdian striker.

It was an end-to-end contest at Al Majma'ah Sports City Stadium, and Al Fateh could have pushed ahead had Cristian Tello’s left-footed strike not been a few inches past Stojkovic. The Serbian did well to take the sting out of the shot from the Spanish winger.

Sure enough, the contest swung again in favour of Al Fayha thanks to a sweet strike from Sabiri in the 68th minute. Utilising his blistering pace Sakala timed his run to perfection on the counter and cut the ball back to the Moroccan who ran onto the ball to take a first-time shot that arrowed just out of the reach of Rinne.

Al Fateh’s head coach Slaven Billic cut a frustrated figure on the sidelines, pushing his team at every opportunity, however, the former Croatia boss didn't have to wait long as his team went level with a well-worked team goal.

Not for the first time, Baattia came up with a deep cross to the back post. This time the ball was nodded down by Salem Al Najdi . Sofiane Bendebka was in the right place at the right time to stab the ball home from close range.

With the contest ending, the visitors came up with a golden chance to win the game. Sabiri who had been so impressive in the Al Fayha attack saw his freekick from 30-yards just pushed away by Rinne. The result means that Al Fateh move up to sixth and Al Fayha moved up to seventh in the RSL standings with just goal difference separating the two sides. 

Stoppage-time drama as Brozovic strikes to hand Al Nassr win at Al Okhdood

Marcelo Brozovic struck in the 91st minute to hand Al Nassr a dramatic 3-2 win over strugglers Al Okhdood.

Al Nassr looked to be dropping points on Thursday evening and handing the title to rivals Al Hilal, however, the Croatian international had other ideas sliding in to seal the win for the Riyadh-based side.

The visitors to the Prince Hathloul Sports City made a perfect start as midfielder Brozovic opened the scoring with the game just seven minutes old. Al Okhdood failed to clear their lines and Ali Al Hassan poked the ball back to Brozovic on the edge of the box. The midfielder took a quick touch to set himself before curling a fine right-footed strike that arrowed into the corner.

Things went from bad to worse for Al Okhdood when a defensive misstep from defender Saeed Al Rubaie handed Al Nassr a second just seven minutes later. The veteran seemed to freeze on the ball in the penalty area. That allowed Al Hassan to steal in and his cross bobbled off the shin of Cristiano Ronaldo to make it 2-0.

Ayman Yahya came inches away from putting the contest out of sight of Al Okhdood in the 25th minute. Sadio Mane picked out the young attacker who just lacked composure in the vital moment. His shot flew just wide of Paulo Vitor’s goal.

Al Nassr continued to press for a third in the second half and was promptly denied by the woodwork two minutes after the restart. Brozovic provided a delicate clipped ball to Mane who smashed the ball on the volley. Thankfully for Al Okhdood, the effort from the Senegal international bounced off the crossbar.

Al Okhdood grabbed a lifeline just on the hour mark. After a dangerous free-kick was played into the box, the ball was cleared to the feet of Hassan Al Habib. The defensive midfielder promptly whipped the ball into the bottom corner for his first goal of the RSL campaign.

Just ten minutes later the hosts found parity as they pounced on another failed clearance. 

Substitute Hussain Al Zabdani surged into the penalty box before Al Nassr defender Mohammed Al Fati halted the danger. After some miscommunication, the ball eventually fell to Saviour Godwin who stuck the ball into the top corner. 

Every point counts for Al Okhdood as they are in the thick of a relegation dogfight at the foot of the standings, who did have a huge chance to edge ahead. In the final moments, David Ospina pulled off a fine double save. First, an instinctive stop to halt Alex Collado’s long-range effort, whilst the rebound fell to Godwin. Ospina again showed good reflexes to deny the Nigerian.

With 91 minutes on the clock, Al Nassr broke Al Okhdood hearts with a well-taken winner. Sultan Al Ghannam picked out Ronaldo who saw his header hit the crossbar. Al Nassr quickly recycled the ball, which fell into the path of Brozovic who took his shot on the half-volley which crashed past Paulo Vitor to seal a big win for Al Nassr and kept their thread-bare chances of lifting the RSL title alive.

The win is an eighth consecutive in the league for Al Nassr who remain in second spot. As for Al Okhdood they are hovering just out of the relegation zone in 15th place with 28 points to their name.

Al Riyadh ride luck to get a point against Al Taawoun

Al Riyadh picked up a useful point in their bid to beat the drop as they drew 0-0 with high-flying Al Taawoun on Thursday.

Al Taawoun, who currently occupy fourth place in the RSL standings made the better start at the Prince Faisal bin Fahd Stadium. Former Al Ettifaq winger Mohammed Al Kuwaykibi jinked past two Al Riyadh defenders before smashing a shot toward goal which flashed just over the bar. It would prove to be the only chance of note in a half that was distinctively lacking attacking flair.

That dramatically changed in the second half as the visitors up the pressure. First, Brazilian attacker Joao Pedro launched a fierce strike from the edge of the box which skipped wide of the Al Riyadh goal. 

Moments afterwards, Aschraf El Mahdioui found substitute Sattam Al Roqi with a telling pass. Yet,the angle was always against the midfielder and his effort was comfortably saved Al Riyadh goalkeeper Martin Campana.

Al Taawoun bossed possession throughout the contest and hit the post for their efforts in the 66th minute. Ibrahim Al Shoeil picked out Cristian Guanca on the penalty spot, but the first-time strike smashed off the upright.

Campana played a major role in Al Riyadh keeping a clean sheet with a quick-fire double save. First to halt Pedro’s flying volley and the subsequent follow-up Al Roqi.

Up the other end, Al Riyadh crafted a chance to edge ahead. Yahya Al Shehr provided the corner which fell to Andre Gray. The Jamaican smashed a shot towards goal, but a combination of Pedro’s boot and a reaction save from Mailson denied the former Watford striker.

Al Riyadh will undoubtedly be the happier side as they rode their luck to grab a point against Al Taawoun. The result means that Odair Hellmann’s men now sit two points away from the relegation places on 30 points. As for Al Taawoun they remain in fourth on 52 points.