Steven Gerrard loses first match in charge of Al-Ettifaq as Barcelona flop brings Liverpool icon's dream start to an end | The Sun
STEVEN GERRARD's dream start as Al-Ettifaq manager has come to an end after his side lost 2-0 to Al-Hilal.
The former Rangers and Aston Villa manager had picked up seven points from his first three games – which had included a 2-1 win over Cristiano Ronaldo's Al-Nassr.
Captain Jordan Henderson was unable to inspire Ettifaq to a comeback after first-half goals from former Barcelona star Malcom and Salem Aldawsari sunk the Dammam based side.
Al-Hilal have been one of the busier sides in the Saudi league this transfer window and will be among the favourites for the title.
They are one of the four sides that have been taken over by the Saudi investment fund alongside Al-Ittihad, Al-Ahli and and the aforementioned Al-Nassr.
Traditionally the biggest club in Saudi Arabia, their backing has been significant, seeing them sign Neymar, Kalidou Koulibaly, Malcom, Ruben Neves and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic.
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Neymar is yet to make his long awaited debut for the club due to sustaining a muscle injury and was absent against Gerrard's Ettifaq.
But Gerrard and Henderson's men were unable to take advantage of his absence and fell to a defeat that sees them sit fifth in the table on seven points after four matches played so far.
Al-Hilal meanwhile are second in the table on 10 points, behind leaders Al-Ittihad who have 12 points after a perfect start to the league campaign.
Al-Ittihad's lead comes despite reported tension between star striker and current Ballon D'Or winner Karim Benzema and former Spurs boss Nuno Esperito Santo.
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Reports from Saudi suggested that Benzema could be frozen out after complaining he had "not been treated professionally by the coach."
Benzema has just one goal in his opening four Saudi Pro-League games despite his side's blistering start to the season.
Gerrard will be hoping to get things back on track next time out in a home tie against Damac.
The game kicks off at 7pm British time this Saturday.
Viewers in the UK will now be able to watch the Saudi League on TV after DAZN acquired the rights to show the league.
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