Aleksandar Mitrovic and Ruben Neves eased Al-Hilal into the quarter-finals of the King’s Cup on Monday, providing the goals in a 3-0 home victory over Al-Hazm.
In the end it was a comfortable win for the title holders. Al-Hazm, who held reigning Pro League champions Al-Ittihad to a draw in the league last Thursday, did have some dangerous moments going forward but were unable to find the right final ball.
The first half finished goalless, as although Al-Hilal began to exert more control over the game as it progressed they also struggled to create clear chances.
They finally took the lead seven minutes after the restart. When Talal Al-Absi was adjudged to have bundled over Malcom inside the area, Neves — who has been linked to a move back to the English Premier League, with Newcastle United, in the British media — stepped up to take the penalty and send the ball into the bottom-left corner of the net past the outstretched hand of a diving Aymen Dahmen.
Soon after, Gambian striker Mohammed Badamosi missed a chance to level the score. This perhaps helped persuade Al-Hilal coach Jorge Jesus to increase his team’s firepower. Either way, Mitrovic came off the bench midway through the half and scored twice to make it seven goals in five games for the former Fulham forward, who is doing a lot to help fans recover from the loss of the injured Neymar.
His first strike came after 79 minutes when Michael dinked the ball over Al-Hazm’s back line inside the area for Mitrovic to fire home from the right corner of the six-yard box.
If the visitors were still harboring any hopes of a comeback at this stage, four minutes later it was game over for sure. Malcom once again was fouled in the area and this time Mitrovic took the penalty, making no mistake.
Al-Hilal are joined in the last eight by Al-Faisaly, who won 3-0 at Al-Najma, and Al-Khaleej, who squeezed past Damac at home after a penalty shootout.
Both Al-Ittihad and Al-Nassr are in action on Tuesday, with the former away to Al-Fayha, and the latter playing host to Al-Ettifaq.