Engrossing Roshn Saudi League title showdown continues as Ronaldo heroics and Romarinho’s header provide more drama in race between Al Nassr and Al Ittihad
There was more drama in the Roshn Saudi League on Tuesday as the title race looked, for a time, to be over before it roared back to life leaving all to play for.
The fate of one team, however, was sealed.
The focus was on the top two, Al Ittihad and Al Nassr who were both playing at the same time. Going into the game three points separated them but if the leaders defeated bottom team Al Batin and Al Nassr, in second, lost the Riyadh Derby to Al Shabab then the title would be going to Jeddah for the first time since 2008/09.
At half-time, that looked more than possible. Al Ittihad took a ninth-minute lead thanks to a powerful header from the in-form Romarinho.
It lit the touchpaper at King Abdullah Sports City Stadium and quietened the home crowd up in Riyadh.
It soon got worse for Al Nassr. Two goals from Cristian Guanca, the first from the penalty spot and the second from the edge of the area with a fierce drive put Al Shabab, in third, ahead and meant that the title was slipping away from Al Nassr.
Then Talisca struck with goal number 18 of the season to make it 2-1 just before the break.
There was work to do then and it was done. First Abdulrahman Ghareeb netted from close range to level the scores.
And then, just before the hour Cristiano Ronaldo fired home goal number 14 in 15 league games, curling home from the edge of the area. It was perhaps his best goal in Saudi Arabia, but regardless, it ended up winning the game.
“I am so happy that the team did it. It was a fantastic game,” Ronaldo told SSC TV after the game. “To be 2-0 down is very difficult but we believed until the end and scored three goals so congratulations to the team and the supporters who were amazing today, so we are very happy.”
Al Ittihad may have taken an early lead against Al Batin but there was increasing tension in Jeddah as the visitors stayed in the game.
In the end, the Tigers took the points to relegate Al Batin who rallied well in the second half of the season after a terrible start. The loss means that they will go down in last place.
Going into the game, Al Batin must have been motivated by the earlier result. Al Adalah, next to bottom, moved level on points with Al Khaleej thanks to a memorable 2-0 win over defending champions Al Hilal.
That win has added extra drama to the relegation battle with Al Wehda and Al Fayha also looking nervously over their shoulders. Abha, Al Raed and Ettifaq all need just a point to be certain of top flight football next season.
Ettifaq are in action against Al Nassr on Saturday. The penultimate round of the season is going to be a huge evening of football.
If Al Ittihad win at Al Fayha then the title is theirs. If the Tigers slip up and Al Nassr don’t then the final round of the title race could be special indeed.