PSV rue chances as old boy Malen earns Champions League draw for Dortmund

Superstar Karim Benzema may have returned to action for Al-Ittihad on Sunday, but it was Abderrazak Hamdallah who grabbed the goals and the headlines in a 2-0 win over Al-Riyadh in Jeddah.

The Moroccan marksman, who ended up as the top scorer in the Roshn Saudi League last season, struck in each half to give the defending champions a second successive win that was much-needed after three league defeats in a row. 

The win keeps the Tigers in fifth, a point behind Al-Taawoun in fourth and six behind local rivals Al-Ahli in third.

It was a top-class showcase of striking ability from Hamdallah. He opened the scoring in fine fashion after just 12 minutes, after being found in the corner of the area by Madallah Al-Olayan. 

There was still much to do for the 33-year-old, who then curled home a beauty that struck the inside of the far post and ended up in the back of the net. It was the kind of goal scored by a striker full of confidence.

Benzema came close midway through the first half with a fierce shot from just inside the area that was pushed away by Riyadh’s Uruguayan goalkeeper Martin Campana.

Hamdallah came even closer just after the half hour, volleying over from close range following a perfectly lifted pass into the box from Fabinho. 

Al-Riyadh, who stay in 15th after the loss and just a point above the relegation zone, offered little threat in the first half and almost fell further behind before the break as Benzema’s free kick looked to be creeping in at the bottom corner before Campana clawed it away.

In the second-half, Al-Ittihad continued to have the better chances, but slowly the visitors from the capital started to look more threatening and came close to an equalizer with 12 minutes remaining from a free kick that was headed just over the bar. 

Al-Riyadh almost snatched a point in the 90th minute as Knowledge Musona headed Mohammed Al-Aqel’s cross just wide.

Hamdallah settled the game as a contest in the 97th minute with a fine goal. With Campana in the Al-Ittihad half from a corner, the striker lobbed the ball into an empty net from the halfway line and that was that.

Al-Ittihad are next in action on Thursday against Navbahor in the Asian Champions League. After a 0-0 draw last week in Uzbekistan in the round of 16 clash, any victory will send the Tigers into the quarterfinals.

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