Leaders Al-Hilal missed a golden opportunity to take decisive step toward a 17th Saudi Professional League (SPL) title after drawing 1-1 with Al-Batin only hours after second-placed Al-Shabab had lost 4-3 in a dramatic match against Ettifaq.
A win would have put the reigning champions six points ahead of Al-Shabab with three matches left, but a stoppage-time penalty miss by French forward Bafetimbi Gomis means that nagging doubts will persist at least until round 28 of the SPL.
While Al-Hilal lead the table by four points, third-place Al-Ittihad could re-enter the title race by going second in the table, one point above Al-Shabab, with a win over Damac on Saturday.
Al-Hilal started strongly at Prince Faisal bin Fahad Stadium and took the lead through top scorer Gomis at 17 minutes.
The expected comfortable evening for Al-Hilal did not materialize, however, and Al-Batin equalized through Mohamed Rayhi in the 29th minute.
Youssef El-Jebli almost gave Al-Batin a first-half lead when his shot just missed Abdullah Al-Mayouf’s goal.
Al-Hilal coach Jose Morais introduced Salem and Nasser Al-Dawsari for Andre Carrillo and Luciano Vietto, but despite sustained pressure could not break down Al-Batin’s defense.
The Riyadh giants were then given a priceless opportunity to win the match with the late penalty, but Gomis struck the bar with the last shot of the match.
Al-Hilal will next host Al-Ahli on Wednesday, while Al-Shabab welcome Al-Ain on the same night and Al-Ittihad travel to Abha the following day.