Recent twists in thrilling Roshn Saudi League title race for Al Ittihad and Al Nassr show nothing can be taken for granted
Monday saw more drama-filled action in the Roshn Saudi League title race as Al Ittihad moved five-points clear with an emphatic 4-0 win over Abha, taking advantage of Al Nassr’s 1-1 draw against Al Khaleej earlier in the day.
Before kick-off, it looked as if both had winnable home games against opposition lower down the table – but nothing can be taken for granted.
Al Nassr’s form had been up and down in recent weeks, but they were coming off a 4-0 win at home to Al Raed. It was a welcome return to winning ways after a mini-slump that included a draw against Al Fayha and a 2-0 defeat at the hands of Al Hilal in the league, plus a semi-final loss to Al Wehda in the King’s Cup.
Cristiano Ronaldo opened the scoring against Al Raed, a 12th goal of the season so far, but the five-time Ballon d’Or winner missed training on Saturday. He looked up for the contest, but could do little as the visitors took an early lead.
Al Khaleej may have spent the season in the lower reaches of the league after winning promotion, but were never going to be easy opponents. They had won their last two games to move out of the relegation zone and just before that, gave third-placed Al Shabab a fright in a game they lost 3-2.
In those three matches, they found the net seven times. Portuguese attacker Fabio Martins and Albania’s Sokol Cikalleshi have really clicked and contributed six of those.
It was Martins who shocked the Al Nassr fans with a well-timed run and well-taken goal in the fourth minute.
Alvaro Gonzalez headed the home team back level soon after ,but despite the best efforts of Ronaldo and his team-mates, the second goal never came.
The spotlight was then on Al Ittihad. Last week, they had a chance to go six clear at the top and put one hand on the trophy, but ended up losing 2-1 at Al Taawoun in what was an entertaining clash.
It ended a fantastic run of games which saw 34 points collected from a possible 36 and it was also the first time this season that Nuno Santo’s men conceded more than one goal.
After losing the lead late last season, Al Ittihad are determined not to repeat that stumble this time around. But Abha have won two of their last three to end any lingering fears of relegation and would have loved nothing more to have a say in the title race.
It was never on the cards once Romarinho volleyed home a spectacular opener after 13 minutes and Abderrazak Hamdallah grabbed goal number 20 of the season soon after. Romarinho made it three on the half hour and Mohammed Al Saiari’s injury time penalty ended a perfect game for Al Ittihad.
There are still four games left to play and with some mouth-watering fixtures remaining in this most entertaining of seasons, nobody will be taking anything for granted.