Fans gave him ‘goosebumps’ during Jeddah derby win, says Ahli coach Jaissle

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RIYADH: Al-Hilal will today find out the extent of Aleksandar Mitrovic’s “heavy” leg injury sustained during the 4-3 win over Al-Shabab in the Roshn Saudi League on Saturday night.

Mitrovic, who netted a double before injury to take his league strike tally to 22 goals from 22 games, was substituted in the 34th minute after pulling up sharply while running with the ball.

The Serbian striker was supported by medical staff as he limped from the pitch.

Speaking at the post-match press conference, Al-Hilal manager Jorge Jesus, whose side kept their 12-point lead at the top of the league with the win, confirmed: “It’s a muscular injury. Normally always when it’s diagnosed as a muscular injury, it’s a heavy injury. But still, it’s (Sunday) that we’ll have the examinations and for sure we can say (what’s wrong).”

Jesus added: “A player like Mitrovic, we don’t have an equal substitute for him, even though in other positions we might have. Mitrovic played for his national team and was in Russia, with long hours for flights and arrived two days before the game. There is always a risk for the big teams that play for all the competitions like us. We are in different competitions at the moment and very close to achieving the league and in two semifinals, so there is a price we pay for success. All the big teams pay such a price for success — we are not a team that plays every seven or eight days.”

Al-Hilal fell behind to Al-Shabab after just three minutes through a Musab Al-Juwayr shot from the edge of the box that struck the inside of the post before nestling in the net. Yassine Bounou then produced a huge one-on-one save from Carlos to prevent the scoreline becoming 2-0 to Al-Shabab.

Al-Hilal then took control and Mitrovic’s double, the first from the penalty spot, was added to by Sergej Milinkovic-Savic’s 10th league goal of the season to send the league leaders in 3-1 up at half-time.

Salem Al-Dawsari tucked home the fourth before the hour mark, but Al-Shabab then produced an inspired comeback, scoring firstly through Hussain Al-Sibyani’s well-taken goal and then a superb Romain Saiss free-kick 12 minutes from time. With a minute left, Al-Shabab substitute Nawaf Al-Sadi curled a shot off the bar and Al-Hilal saw out injury time to earn their 30th victory in succession and add to their world-record winning run.

“The important thing is we took the victory against a strong opponent,” Jesus added.

Al-Shabab manager Vitor Pereira was pleased with the response of his team to going 4-1 behind and said there were positives to take from the performance.

“Al-Hilal have a lot of top level players,” he said. “If I look at their bench I see national team players. But in the end, the second half was a half with courage, attitude and confidence and the true spirit to recover the goals that we needed to draw or win. I believe that if we had got level in the game we would have gone and tried to score again to win. This is the spirit that I want in my team. I am happy because of this spirit that I saw. To say that the result is fair or unfair — well, football is football.”

Al-Shabab are next in Roshn Saudi League action on Wednesday, April 3 when they host Al-Riyadh. Al-Hilal host Al-Okhdood the night before.