Al Hilal overpower champs Al Ittihad
Thiago Neves claimed a hat-trick as defending champions Al Ittihad suffered a humiliating 5-0 defeat at the hands of leaders Al Hilal in the Saudi League.
Swedish midfielder Christian Wilhelmsson opened the scoring after only seven minutes when he fired a cross-shot past Al Ittihad goalkeeper Mabrouk Zaid before Neves made it 2-0 in the 37th minute with a fierce shot from distance. Neves netted his second and Al Hilal's third after 55 minutes before Yasser Al Qahtani produced some excellent approach work to set up the Brazilian midfielder for his hat-trick.
Al Ittihad almost pulled a goal back after 77 minutes when Saud Khariri's shot hit the woodwork before Wilhelmsson completed the scoring with seven minutes remaining, beating Zaid from close range. The win strengthened Al Hilal's position at the top of the league as they moved on to 29 points courtesy of their ninth win of the season, while Al Ittihad remain third.
Elsewhere, Al Ittifaq defeated Najran 3-1 for only their second victory of the season to climb to ninth in the standings. Najran took the lead after 12 minutes through Jordan midfielder Anas Bani Yaseen from the spot but Abdulrahman Al Qahtani levelled for Al Ittifaq after 35 minutes with another penalty.
Al Ittifaq went in front just after the break through Yousef Al Salem before Yahya Al Shehri sealed the points with a third goal in the 54th minute. Al Ahli continued their disappointing run as they were held to a 1-1 draw by Al Fateh.
After a goalless first half, Al Fateh took the lead eight minutes into the second period through Rabih Sufiani before Mohamad Al Safri equalised for Al Ahli with 12 minutes remaining.