Roberto Firmino Shines Bright as Al Ahli Triumph in Saudi Pro League Opener
In Saudi Arabian football, it was the coronation of Roberto Firmino's excellence. His Brazilian brilliance with a hat-trick led Al Ahli to a resounding victory in their opening match of the Saudi Pro League, triumphing 3-1 over Al Hazm.
This match heralded the dawn of a new era in Saudi football. Amidst the intrigue brought by Cristiano Ronaldo's presence in the previous season, the Saudi league has become a center of global football attraction. However, this time, the league has commenced with the leading stars taking the spotlight. The likes of Roberto Firmino and Riyadh Mahrez, akin to their European football counterparts, have graced the field. The upcoming matches promise to showcase more stars like Karim Benzema, Jordan Henderson, Fabinho, Engalo Kante, and Saadio Mane, adding further luster to the league.
In the inaugural match of the Pro League, Al Ahli's lineup resembled a constellation of stars at Prince Abdullah Al Faisal Stadium in Jeddah. Observers would find it unjust to attribute any blame to the team while witnessing their impressive performance. The attacking prowess of players like Firmino and Riyadh Mahrez, who have tasted victory in the English Premier League and Champions League, has indeed transformed Al Ahli's offensive prowess. The midfield is graced by the former Barcelona star Frank Kessie, while former Chelsea talent Eduard Mendy holds his ground under the goalposts.
Al Ahli's star-studded lineup displayed their footballing prowess from the very start. However, moments of inconsistency were also apparent during the match. Firmino's goal-scoring spree began just six minutes into the game, courtesy of a cross from Sateerth Al Majrashi, catapulting Al Ahli ahead. The moment was made even more remarkable as Firmino celebrated with his signature trademark, paying tribute to former Manchester City star Mahrez.
Subsequently, Firmino found the back of the net again in a mere four minutes, extending the lead to 2-0. The partnership between Firmino and Mahrez was evident as they dominated the field for a solid 10 minutes. This time, it was Firmino who capitalized on Mahrez's expertly delivered assist, further solidifying Al Ahli's advantage.
The match took an unexpected turn when, in the 50th minute, Al Hazm managed to score a goal, reducing the deficit to 2-1. Al Hazm's star Barboza de Souza showcased resilience that surpassed even Mendy's talent, deflecting the ball into the net with an impressive header.
However, Firmino's brilliance was undeterred. In the 72nd minute, he completed his hat-trick, securing Al Ahli's victory and a 3-1 lead. Despite the opposing goalkeeper's best efforts to thwart Firmino's attacks, the Brazilian star found his way through the defense once again. With this final goal, Al Ahli sealed their win, clinching the second-tier title this season.