Cristiano Ronaldo was on target as Al Nassr closed the gap at the top of the Saudi Pro League back to 10 points after easing to a 3-1 victory over Al Ettifaq.
Al Hilal thrashed Abha 7-0 on Thursday, meaning Al Nassr’s title hopes will be out of their hands for as long as the leaders continue to set the pace. They responded well enough on Friday, though, with Alex Telles, Marcelo Brozovic, and Ronaldo all on the scoresheet in a comfortable victory in Riyadh.
Steven Gerrard’s visitors did at least get a consolation goal through Mohammed Al Kuwaykibi, but with just one win in 12 games in all competitions, pressure on the former Liverpool captain is starting to build in earnest. A moment of magic from Alex Telles broke the deadlock shortly before halftime. The former Manchester United man smashed home a superb volley from the edge of the penalty area following a half-cleared cross.
Any hope of a comeback seemed to be snuffed out before the hour mark. Al Nassr pressed high to disrupt Al Ettifaq’s attempt to play out from the back, Brozovic intercepted the ball 18 yards out, and the midfielder’s improvised half-volley from Ronaldo’s headed assist saw him score in the Saudi Pro League for the first time.
Ronaldo twice missed good chances, the second following a fine run from Sadio Mane, but he would eventually get on the scoresheet via a penalty after Mane’s latest dance into the area drew a handball. Al Kuwaykibi netted from close range but it never felt like the visitors believed they could rescue a result. They remain eighth in the table, 16 points behind Al Nassr in second.