Ekambi hat-trick downs Al Ittihad, Ighalo on the double for Al Wehda

Al Ettifaq rout Al Ittihad in Jeddah

Karl Toko Ekambi netted a hat-trick as Al Ettifaq thumped Al Ittihad 5-0 at King Abdullah Sports City in Jeddah on Friday.

It didn't take long for Steven Gerrard’s side to get going and opened the scoring with a stunning long-distance strike.

After winning the ball high up the pitch, Georginio Wijnaldum shuttled the ball to fellow midfielder Seko Fofana who took a touch before drilling a 35-yard strike into the back of the net.

Not to be outdone, Al Ittihad looked to hit back as Romarinho tried his luck with a similar effort from distance. The only difference was that his strike was well gathered by Al Ettifaq goalkeeper Paulo Victor. Up the other end, Al Ettifaq winger Demarai Gray was substituted after a clash with goalkeeper Mohammed Al Mahasnah.


Al Ettifaq put the contest out of sight of the current RSL champions with three goals in eight first-half minutes.

First, Fawaz Al Saqour tripped substitute Haroune Camara in the box. After a VAR review, the spot-kick was given. Although he was made to wait, French striker Moussa Dembele kept his composure to put the ball to the other side of Al Mahasnah.

Wijnaldum grabbed his second assist of the evening as he timed his run to perfection latching onto Dembele’s through ball. The Dutch international then squared the ball to Toko Ekambi who slid in for his first goal to fire Al Ettifaq 3-0 up within just 35 minutes.

Four minutes later the side from Dammam added a fourth with a well worked team goal. After diligently playing the ball across midfield, the ball was pushed out to the right wing. Mohammed Abdulrahman drilled his cross into the box and yet again, Toko Ekambi swept in.

Defending champions Al Ittihad have trailed off in recent weeks, but did try to find a way back into the contest. Marwan Al Sahafi pushed into the Al Ettifaq box, but after beating two defenders his low strike went just past the post.

Likewise, N’Golo Kante flashed a shot over the bar just after the restart. In truth, the contest was already over.

Toko Ekambi saved his best goal to last and duly completed his hat-trick in the 55th minute. Fofana provided the through ball and the former Lyon attacker did the rest, gracefully side footing the ball into the bottom corner.

Marcelo Gallardo’s side was decimated with injuries with the Argentinian only naming five players for the bench. Al Ittihad offered little in terms of attacking threat in the second half, but Ahmed Al Ghamdi thought he had pulled his side back into the contest just before the hour mark. However the header from the Saudi U23 attacker was just offside.

Gerrard will be delighted in the way his side used the ball to come away with a huge away win at Al Ittihad. Al Ettifaq currently stay in sixth place and are now six points behind Al Ittihad in fifth.

Ighalo on fire as Al Wehda secure a vital win at Al Khaleej

Odion Ighalo marked his 100th game in the RSL with a brace as he helped his Al Wehda side to a much needed 2-1 win at Al Khaleej.

The Nigerian attacker who has previously enjoyed stints at Al Shabab and Al Hilal was in fine form in the contest, and his goals helped halt a six game winless streak for the side from Mecca.

As early as the third minute Ighalo showed his quality, exhibiting quick feet to skip around three Al Khaleej defenders. Frustratingly, his goalbound strike deflected out for a corner.

Up the other end, Al Khaleej showed their attacking intentions as Pedro Rebocho picked out the head of Lisandro Lopez. The effort from the Argentinian defender went over the bar.

With 27 minutes on the clock, Ighalo came up with a moment of magic to push Al Wehda ahead.

Club captain Waleed Bakhshween provided the long ball, which was expertly controlled by the veteran striker. At pace, Ighalo pushed past Lopez before rounding Al Khaleej goalkeeper Ibrahim Sehic to sidefoot his team into the lead.

Al Wehda only enjoyed 35% possession in the contest, but certainly made it count on the rare moments they had the ball. With five minutes remaining in the half, Ighalo could have easily doubled his tally as he latched onto an Islam Hawsawi long throw. After controlling the ball well, his strike was eventually pushed away for a corner.

The game lacked clear-cut chances but eventually Al Khaleej grabbed a goal. Khaled Narey was stationed on the right side of the penalty box, and slid the ball to fellow attacker Mohamemd Sherif.

The Egyptian took a touch before smashing a shot towards goal. His strike deflected off Al Wehda defender Jawad El Yamiq just evading the grasp of Munir Mohamedi before sliding into the goal.

The contest was eventually decided around two penalty decisions in quick succession. With 76 minutes on the clock, Ali Makki looked to have pulled on the shirt of Sherif in the penalty box. After a VAR review the referee ruled out the penalty, much to the relief of the Al Wehda defender.

VAR was called into action moments later up the other end as Naif Masoud handled Ighalo’s goal bound shot. After a short trip to the monitor, the referee awarded the penalty and handed Masoud a second yellow card, reducing Al Khaleej to ten men.

Ighalo stepped up and slotted away the penalty. That meant that the Nigerian has now scored 66 goals in 100 games in the RSL.

VAR was called into play for a third time as Abdulaziz Noor was handed a straight red card for what looked like a rash challenge on Rebocho. However, after a review the sending off was downgraded to a yellow card.

Despite being a man down, Al Khaleej came close to levelling the game in the final moments. Narey picked up the ball on the edge of the box and produced a curling strike that looked to be flying into the top corner. Mohamedi came up with a fine save to ensure that Al Wehda came away from the Prince Mohamed bin Fahd Stadium with all three points.

A first win in six for Al Wehda means they sit in 12th place in the standings, a comfortable seven points away from the relegation places. As for Al Khaleej they remain in 11th.

Abha and Damac share spoils in Asir Derby

Abha boss Pitso Mosimane may rue an early penalty miss as his side shared the points with local rivals Damac in the Asir derby on Friday evening.

The home side started on the front foot as midfielder Grzegorz Krychowiak smashed a shot towards goal, which inadvertently bounced off Damac left-back Dhari Al Enezi.

VAR worked on the decision in the background before inviting the referee to take a closer look for a possible handball. After a review the spot-kick was given.

Krychowiak stepped up for the home side, and drilled the ball down the middle. Damac goalkeeper Moustafa Zeghba read the the effort and stopped well with his feet to deny the former Poland international his 10th goal of the season.

Soon after, it was Damac who turned on the pressure with a well worked team move which fell to Nicolae Stanciu on the edge of the box. The Romanian, who has been one of the stand out players in the side, smashed a shot towards goal which was just tipped over by Abha goalkeeper Ciprian Tatarusanu.

It was an end-to-end contest at the Prince Sultan bin Abdulaziz Stadium, and the hosts threatened to take the lead on the counter. Hassan Al Ali latched onto a long ball and did well to out manoeuvre his marker and cut into the box. Zeghba did even better to stand tall and block the effort from the Saudi attacker.

Abha goalkeeper Tatarusanu was called into action just after the restart, pulling off a smart save to deny a drilled shot from Georges-Kevin N'Koudou. The Cameroon international has not found the back of the net in his previous nine RSL outings but had scored a hat-trick in his debut Asir derby earlier in the season.

The second half proved to be tight and tetchy with both teams not looking to give up their point. Interestingly, this contest was the first 0-0 scoreline between the two sides since the January 19 2019.

The point for Abha pulls them just out of the relegation places in 15th place with fellow relegation rivals Al Tai set to play Al Raed on Saturday evening. As for Damac they drop down to 10th place.

Despite pulling out of the drop zone, you have to feel that coach Pitso Mosimane will be frustrated that his side missed a golden chance to take all three points. Especially with the RSL relegation battle now heading into the home straight.