It was a tale of contrasting fortunes for Liverpool legends as newly-promoted Saudi Pro League side Al Etiffaq takes on Sadio Mane’s Al Nassr at the Fahab bin Abdulaziz Stadium.
Steven Gerrard went into the game with a lot at stake having seen the club splurge millions this summer to beef up the squad after being promoted from Saudi second division.
The former Celtic and Aston Villa manager is expected to battle for the Saudi Pro League title – a feat rare of a club just gaining promotion into an elite division in the first season.
Taking on 2022/23 runners-up, Al Nassr, was a good test for the Liverpool legend to test the depth of the squad to challenge for the Saudi Pro League title.
Fortunately, Steven Gerrard got up to a winning start as he sets out for a heroic debut season in the Saudi Pro League as manager.
Al Nassr proved a better side as the match kicked off, dominating proceedings and wielding control of the ball. The visitors build on their recent victory in Arab Club Champions Cup and were enroute to an away win in the opening weekend.
Sadio Mane stars on Saudi Pro League debut
Steven Gerrard needed to do more with his boys after a scrappy gameplay throughout the first half that allowed Al Nassr land the first punch.
In the second half, Al Etiffaq gave a more formidable display, matching the pace, press and possession of the visitors.
Two minutes into the second half, the hosts’ stronger and more formidable display yielded results.
A quick double by Al Etiffaq early in the second half overturned the scoreboard and put the hosts incharge. Quaison scored the leveler in the 42nd minute before Dembele completed the comeback with a 53rd-minute goal to put Al Etiffaq in the lead.
Al Nassr made frantic attempts to come back into the game all to no avail as Steven Gerrard steered the new-ly promoted side to an opening win over Al Nassr.
A match of Liverpool legends
Al Etiffaq Vs Al Nassr clash was a top game, featuring three Liverpool legends Steven Gerrard, Jordan Henderson, and Sadio Mane.
The trio played big roles in the match and had a great debut in 2023/24 Saudi Pro League opener. With the absence of Cristiano Ronaldo, who picked up a knock in Arab Club Champions Cup final, Sadio Mane was handed the captaincy badge of Al Nassr and he scored on his debut for the club.
Jordan Henderson was handed the captaincy badge for Al Etiffaq after joining the club as the most experienced player. He delivered the first assist that led to Al Etiffaq’s first goal after taking a corner kick which was converted by Quaison.
Steven Gerrard who was roving impatiently on the touchline during the first half got the team to overturn the deficit and grab a deserved 2-1 win.
Steven Gerrard’s next stop will be at the Al Hazm club stadium where they will take on Al Hazm on 18 August 2023.