All summer, we've been following the crazy transfers to Saudi Arabia, and now we can see the results of these incredible acquisitions. The local championship had its first round. We're here to tell you all the most exciting details about it.
Superb debut for Firmino. Outperformed Mahrez!
The strengthened Al Ahli team started the season strongly. And the main hero was Roberto Firmino - a hat-trick! Bobby, as the fans of Liverpool used to call him, scored two goals by the 10th minute, and in the middle of the second half, he added to the intrigue when Al Hazm scored one goal.
And this is considering that, besides Firmino, Al Ahli has other players who can shine. Here we have Riyad Mahrez (with an assist on the second goal), Allan Saint-Maximin, Frank Kessie, and even Edouard Mendy with Roger Ibañez.
Benzema helped Al Ittihad, but his partner received the gift
One of the favorites of the new season is Al Ittihad. The team now features Karim Benzema, N'Golo Kante, and Fabinho, and this band is coached by Nuno Espirito Santo. They managed to start the season with a victory.
In the 1st round, Al Ittihad played away against Al Raed. It ended up being a triumph - 3:0, but surprisingly, Benzema didn't score. He only got one assist, while Brazilian Igor Coronado scored a brace. Now, Al Ittihad leads the league table, ahead of competitors by additional indicators.
And after the match, a characteristic episode for Saudi Arabia occurred. A fan gifted Fabinho a watch! The Brazilian initially needed to understand what they wanted from him. Still, he realized they wanted to make him happy and shook hands with a smile.
Malcom shines as bright as Firmino
One of the main favorites of the season, Al Hilal, started with an away victory against Abha. And the main hero was Malcom! The Brazilian, who recently moved to the Saudi grand club from Zenit Saint Petersburg for €60 million, has already managed to lose the Arabian Champions Cup to Cristiano Ronaldo's team. Now he's making his mark in the championship.
Malcom scored a hat-trick, just like his compatriot Firmino. The ex-Zenit player scored approximately once every 20 minutes - in the 31st, 55th, and 77th minutes. Impressive! Although, for Malcom's hat trick, credit goes to goalkeeper David Epassi. The second goal was clearly on his conscience.
Mane substituted for Ronaldo, but Gerrard's team still triumphed
And here's the central match of the round! Al Ettifaq, under the leadership of Steven Gerrard, faced off against Al Nassr. To the delight of the opponent, Cristiano Ronaldo, who got injured in the victorious final of the Arabian Champions Cup, was absent from the guests' team.
Al Nassr took the lead already in the 4th minute. Ronaldo was successfully replaced by Sadio Mane - he initiated the attack and finished it by shooting up close. However, only Al Ettifaq managed to score in the second half. Moreover, they organized a comeback in just six minutes! By the way, the second and winning goal was achieved by Moussa Dembele. If you remember, this forward played for Lyon, Atletico, and British clubs. The lineup also included former Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson.
In defense of Al Nassr, it's worth mentioning that they were missing not only Ronaldo. Alex Telles, Marcelo Brozovic, and Talisca were also absent from the lineup. Mane was the only star in the starting lineup and one of the two foreigners, along with Ivorian defender Gislein Konan.