Ruben Neves, Cristiano Ronaldo

Al Hilal vs Al Nassr ends in a 2-0 win for hosts as Cristiano Ronaldo draws blank, while Milinkovic-Savic scores

Al Hilal vs Al Nassr: An Overview

Saudi Pro League (SPL) leaders Al Hilal faced challengers Al Nassr in a mid-season friendly tournament called Riyadh Season Cup on Thursday, February 8.

Al Hilal entered this contest on the back of an incredible run of form. They have won their last 23 games on the bounce and are unbeaten in their last 30. They currently lead the SPL by seven points and look like favourites to go on and win the title. Al Hilal kicked off their mid-season with a thrilling 4-3 win over Lionel Messi’s Inter Miami, before defeating Al-Gharafa 2-1 in their last game. They were looking to earn bragging rights before the actual season against their closest challengers

Al Nassr entered this contest on the back of a good run of form as well. Prior to this match, they had won seven of their last 10 games, drawing two and losing just once. They were in great goal scoring form, scoring a whopping 23 times in just their last five games. This included a 6-0 demolition of Inter Miami earlier this month, where Anderson Talisca grabbed a hat-trick. Having seen their friendly against Chinese club Zheijang postponed, Al Nassr were looking to make the most of this one before the season resumed.

Al Hilal vs Al Nassr: Match Report & Analysis

SPL leaders Al Hilal secured a straightforward 2-0 win over second-placed Al Nassr in the friendly Riyadh Season Cup on Thursday, February 8 at the Kingdom Arena in Riyadh.

The home team made a great start to the contest and looked up for it since the very first whistle. Despite having slightly lesser of the ball, they were determined to make the most of their chances in and around the box. Sergej Milinkovic-Savic put his team 1-0 up after just 17 minutes with a low finish into the bottom-left corner. Saud Abdulhamid provided a nice assist for the goal after his drive into the box from the right flank.

Their opponents Al Nassr had little in response and found themselves trailing by two just 13 minutes later. This time, Brazilian Malcom found Salem Al-Dawsari in space and played a lovely line-breaking pass to put him through on goal. Al-Dawsari then showed his class and lobbed the ball over the goalkeeper from outside the box to make it 2-0 after 30 minutes. Al Hilal attempted a total of four shots on target but could not increase their lead before half-time.

The second half gave Al Nassr an opportunity to claw their way back into the game. Manager Luis Castro brought Sadio Mane on during the break in a bid to turn things around. They even had slightly more possession in the second half than they did in the first. However, the Ronaldo-led side hit the target just once in nine attempts in the second period.

Defensively, Al Hilal were solid with Kalidou Koulibaly manning the defense to perfection. They maintained their shape and their discipline to see out a routine 2-0 win to end their pre-season strong. On that note, let’s take a look at the top performers from the game.

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Al Hilal vs Al Nassr: Top Performers

Sergej Milinkovic-Savic (7.5/10)

Sergej-Milinkovic Savic, Al Hilal
Milinkovic-Savic celebrates scoring a goal. (Credit: Getty)

Ever since joining Al Hilal, the Serbian midfielder seems to have added goals to his game effortlessly. He added another to the tally with a composed finish akin to a striker to put his team up 1-0 against Al Nassr.

Milinkovic-Savic passed the ball with 88% accuracy, including one key pass and two long balls. He also won eight duels, making two tackles, two clearances and two interceptions in a dominant midfield performance.

The Serb now has nine goals and five assists in just 22 appearances for Al Hilal and will be crucial for his team in the season run-in.

Salem Al-Dawsari (7.5/10)

Al-Dawsari had a great game as well and topped it up with a beautiful finish to double his team’s lead. He passed the ball with 63% accuracy, completed three dribbles and attempted a total of three shots.

The Al Hilal skipper also won seven duels and made two tackles in the process as he oversaw yet another win for his team. However, he faced slight discomfort after a knock and was subbed off as a precaution in the 71st minute.

Marcelo Brozovic (7.5/10)

Marcelo Brozovic, Al Nassr
Marcelo Brozovic arguing with an opponent.

Despite being on the losing side, Brozovic put in an encouraging performance and will be happy with his display. He passed the ball with 85% accuracy, including four key passes, two crosses and five long balls. He also won four duels, making two tackles, two clearances and one interception.

The former Inter Milan man also created one big chance for his teammates. However, a lack of adequate support saw him walk away from the match with nothing. Brozovic had good discipline in terms of fouls but was booked for arguing with the referee.

Al Hilal vs Al Nassr: Match Point

With their incredible unbeaten run still going, it was near-impossible to look past Al Hilal to easily win this game against Al Nassr.

Moreover, the visitors’ star player Cristiano Ronaldo looked rusty up top having just returned from injury. This allowed a fairly relaxed outing for the hosts’ defenders, who marked the Portuguese with ease. Al Hilal also had lesser of the ball but 60% of their shots were on target compared just 14% of Al Nassr’s.

Champion sides usually show their quality in front of goal and Al Hilal did just that to lift the Riyadh Season Cup after a 2-0 win.

ALSO READ: Al Hilal vs Al Nassr Player Ratings as Ronaldo Muted, Milinković-Savić Shines, Aldawsari’s Brilliance Secures Victory | Riyadh Season Cup.