Veloce Racing claims maiden victory at Desert X Prix Round 1 in NEOM

Kevin Hansen and Molly Taylor of Veloce Racing celebrate victory in NEOM. (Supplied)
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Updated 11 March 2023

Veloce Racing claims maiden victory at Desert X Prix Round 1 in NEOM

  • Nico Rosberg’s RXR were on course winners, but after receiving a penalty for speeding under a yellow flag dropped to third

NEOM: Veloce Racing secured their first-ever victory in Extreme E following a penalty for on course winners Rosberg X Racing (RXR) in the Grand Final of the opening round in NEOM.

Kevin Hansen and Molly Taylor put in a consistent drive for the Desert X Prix Round 1 Grand Final, and while it looked like an outright win was within their grasp, they ended the race in second behind Nico Rosberg’s outfit.

After crossing the finish line in first place, RXR received a penalty for speeding under a yellow flag, dropping the team from first to third and ensuring Veloce Racing took the top step on the podium for the first time. The Acciona Sainz XE Team finished third on course, but jumped up to second after RXR received their time penalty.

Winners of the series’ first Redemption Race were the NEOM McLaren Extreme E Team having seen off championship debutants Carl Cox Motorsport. Tanner Foust and Emma Gilmour came out as best of the rest in a race of two halves, as the session was red flagged following racing incidents for Andretti Altawkilat Extreme E and ABT Cupra XE.

A victorious Hansen said: “It feels great. To come back to Saudi Arabia and get my first Extreme E win with this new team, with Molly, and in the country that I had such a career changing accident, this is such a highlight.

“Both of us believe so much in what the engineers and mechanics are doing, so we feel so safe when we get in the car. We believe in what we are going to drive and I think that is also giving some results.”

Meanwhile, team-mate Taylor said: “I think all of us in the team clicking right from the beginning and developing and improving. We were able to start at a really good level in Uruguay form there they've been really good at bringing the best out of every aspect that we look into.

“Our team principal Luc (Alphand) knows what it takes to win. Having that faith in someone like that, who's got the scores on the board, who knows what you're feeling, and knows how to translate that into results, I think that's a real advantage for us.”

The remaining five teams fought it out in the Redemption Race to determine sixth to 10th place in the Desert X Prix Round 1 standings.


Grand Final:

1. Veloce Racing 11:56.291

2. ACCIONA | SAINZ XE Team +16.709

3. Rosberg X Racing +2:08.041 (PENALISED)

4. X44 Vida Carbon Racing DNF

5. No.99 GMC HUMMER EV Chip Ganassi Racing DNF

Redemption Race:

1. NEOM McLaren Extreme E Team 28:55.292

2. Carl Cox Motorsport +5.552



5. Andretti ALTAWKILAT Extreme E DNF

Championship Standings:

1. Veloce Racing: 26 points

2. ACCIONA | SAINZ XE Team: 21 points

3. Rosberg X Racing: 15 points

4. X44 Vida Carbon Racing: 13 points

5. No.99 GMC HUMMER EV Chip Ganassi Racing: 11 points

6. NEOM McLaren Extreme E Team: 8 points

7. Carl Cox Motorsport: 6 points

8. JBXE: 4 points

9. ABT CUPRA XE: 2 points

10. Andretti Altawkilat Extreme E: 1 point


Al-Ittihad champions as Al-Nassr and Ronaldo stumble

Updated 28 May 2023

Al-Ittihad champions as Al-Nassr and Ronaldo stumble

Al-Ittihad are Saudi Arabian champions for the first time since 2009 after defeating Al-Fayha 3- 0 on Saturday in the penultimate round of fixtures in the Roshn Saudi League. Second-placed Al-Nassr came back to draw 1-1 at Ettifaq but it was not enough as Ittihad’s win ended an exciting title race. It is a well-deserved triumph for coach Nuno Santo and his players who saw off the challenge of Cristiano Ronaldo and Al-Nassr to lift a hard-fought and deserved prize.

At kick-off, Al-Ittihad knew that a win would be enough for title number nine but they also knew that they had been in good positions before and failed to finish the job such as last season when a 16-point advantage over Al-Hilal did not prove to be enough. Any nerves were, however,  reduced after three minutes as Ahmed Sharahili sent the Jeddah giants on their way. Igor Coronado floated over a deep free-kick and Sharahili reacted to stab the ball home from close range and the celebrations in Jeddah started to bubble under the surface.

(Twitter: @ittihad)

That early strike was a blow for Al-Nassr who hit the post in the first half thanks to a shot from Luiz Gustavo from close range.but three minutes before the break, the Yellows fell behind.Saeed Al-Mowalad crossed from the right and Youssouf Niakate swept home from close range to finish a perfect move. It was harsh on Al-Nassr who had dominated possession and had the better of the chances but they could feel that their chances of league title number ten were slipping away.

Ronaldo and his team continued to work hard but received another body blow just before the break as Al-Ittihad extended their lead thanks to another set piece. Coronado floated over a free-kick once again and this time Romarinho – the Brazilian has been one of the players of the season – headed home. It prompted wild celebrations among the travelling fans who knew that their 14-year wait was almost over.

Al-Nassr were not about to give up without a fight however. After 56 minutes Abdulrahman Ghareeb passed back to the onrushing Gustavo who unleashed a rocket of a shot into the top corner of the Ettifaq goal from outside the area. It was a spectacular effort. With ten minutes remaining, it looked as if the game was won as Ghareeb pulled the ball back for Gustavo to fire an unstoppable shot into the Ettifaq net. It was ruled out by VAR, which spotted an offside in the build up. In the end, it didn’t really matter as Al-Ittihad rarely looked like losing their two-goal lead and their grip on the league trophy. Soon after, the Tigers made it 3-0 as Romarinho broke free to slot the ball home from just inside the area.


It meant that the celebrations could start in earnest as Al-Ittihad took the points before the end of the Al-Nassr game. It has been a deserved triumph.

Elsewhere, defending champions Al-Hilal moved into third place with a 3-0 win at Abha. Mohammed Al-Qahtani opened the scoring after 11 minutes and Odion Ighalo extended that lead a minute before the break. Abdullah Al-Hamdan added a third.

The relegation battle is hotting up. In the battle of the two teams at the bottom of the table, Al-Batin, who are already relegated, drew 2-2 with next to bottom Al-Adalah who are a point behind safety and Al-Khaleej who drew 0-0 with  Al-Raed. Al-Wedha are now safe after defeating Al-Tai 2-1.

The headlines however belong, for once, not to Criistiano Ronaldo, but to the new champions of Al-Ittihad.

 Egypt and Oman to meet in Arab Beach Football Championship final

Updated 19 May 2023

 Egypt and Oman to meet in Arab Beach Football Championship final

RIYADH: Egypt and Oman have qualified to the 2023 Arab Beach Football Championship final on Saturday.

A brace from  Al-Husseini Ali and goals from Mustafa Shaaban and Hassan Hussein helped the Egyptians edge past Palestine with a 4-3 victory. 

The Omanis booked their place in the final with a 4-2 win over Morocco. Yahya Al-Mreiki, Sami Al-Blushi, Abdullah Al-Souti were on the scoresheet for the Gulf side. 

The competition, which began on May 11, has been organized by the Arab Football Association and hosted by the Saudi Arabian Football Federation in Jeddah, and ends on May 20. 

Victories for Saudi Arabia, Morocco at the Arab Beach Soccer Championship

Updated 12 May 2023

Victories for Saudi Arabia, Morocco at the Arab Beach Soccer Championship

RIYADH: Hosts Saudi Arabia put seven past Mauritania in their opening match of the 2023 Arab Beach Soccer Championship. 
A hat trick from Faisal Al-Yami complemented by goals from Islam Siraj, Majid Shahmani and Bilal Bouda gave the Kingdom’s beach footballers all three point with a 7-3 victory. Mauritanian goals came through Sidi Al-Imam, Olayoun Zuwaid and Sheikh Belkhir.
The other Group A action saw Morocco win 9-5 against Lebanon. Suhail Bassak’s 5 goals help Morocco rise to the top of the table above Saudi Arabia.
The tournament is being played at Al-Hamra Corniche Stadium in Jeddah, on the Kingdom’s Red Sea coast, and the final will take place on May 20, 2023.

Al-Ittihad shocked at Al-Taawoun as title race blown wide open

Updated 04 May 2023

Al-Ittihad shocked at Al-Taawoun as title race blown wide open

  • Al-Ittihad are still three points clear

Al-Taawoun defeated Al-Ittihad 2-1 on Wednesday, stunning the league leaders and blowing the Roshn Saudi League title race wide open.

Fine strikes in each half from Fahad Al-Rashidi mean that the Jeddah club are still three points clear of Al-Nassr in second but both now have five games left — the chasing team have a slightly better goal difference — and there is all to play for.

The Tigers had won 11 and drawn one of the previous 12 and all knew that victory in Buraidah against the hosts, who may have been in sixth but were on a five game winless streak, would be a huge step toward a first title since 2009. Yet, against all odds, they have stumbled in what is just a second loss of the season and memories of last year — when they threw away a commanding lead at the top of the table to Al-Hilal — must not be far away. The pressure is on.

It was a fine performance from Al-Taawoun, who took the lead after 16 minutes. Pericles Camusca’s men patiently moved the ball around the middle of the park and the seventh pass came from Saad Al-Nasser. It found Al-Rashidi just nipping in behind Ahmed Hegazi on the edge of the area. There was still much to do but he brought the ball down perfectly to smash a rising first-time shot while on the run past Marcelo Grohe.

While the strike was a special one, it marked a worrying development. For a team that has had one of the tightest defenses in the world this season, it was the third game in succession in which Ittihad had failed to keep a clean sheet.

Ittihad had chances, most notably the in-form Hamdallah shooting over from close range when getting on the end of a cross from the right, but the quality did not match the quality. Hegazi headed a corner over and Mailson was called on to make a couple of saves before leaving the field just before the break due to injury.

At the break, the Tigers were well ahead in terms of possession and shots, but the only statistic that mattered meant that they had much to do.

It was always likely that Al-Taawoun were going to have to do a lot of defending in the second half, and within moments substitute goalkeeper Raghid Al-Najjar was diving to his left to palm a fine shot from Romarinho out for a corner. Eventually, from the resultant set piece, he threw himself in the opposite direction to deny Abdulrahman Al-Obud.

In the 56th minute, Al-Nasser was adjudged to have bundled Romarinho over in the area. The referee pointed to the spot but after some VAR confusion when the official appeared to have changed his mind, he eventually went to the pitchside monitor to decide that the initial foul came just outside the area and a free-kick was awarded. It did not get past the wall.

It was mostly one-way traffic, yet Al-Taawoun extended their lead midway through the second half with another fine goal from Al-Rashidi. He received the ball from Saad Yaslam just outside the area and while he seemed to slip as he shot, he bent the ball past the despairing left hand of Grohe and into the corner.

Al-Ittihad, their traveling fans and coach Nuno Santo could not believe it, not least because this was the first time all season that they had conceded more than once. 

They redoubled their attacking efforts but Al-Taawoun, who have already defeated Al-Nassr and Al-Hilal this season, had the scent of a famous victory and fought for everything. After 76 minutes of trying, however, Ittihad scored as Hamdallah set up a barnstorming finish. The Moroccan showed his powers of anticipation in a crowded area to drift to the far post and sweep home Ahmed Bamasoud’s cross from the left. 

With 15 minutes added time, the leaders did all they could to get something from the game. It just did not happen in a chaotic and action-packed period in which Al-Najjar excelled once more. It ended with the hosts down to ten men thanks to a late red card received by Turki Al-Mutairi.

When the smoke from this clash clears, Al-Ittihad will remind themselves that they are still three points clear at the top but also know that the title race is far from over.

Al-Wehda send Ronaldo’s Al-Nassr crashing out of the King Cup

Updated 25 April 2023

Al-Wehda send Ronaldo’s Al-Nassr crashing out of the King Cup

  • The shock 1-0 semi-final victory by the underdogs means they will take on Al-Hilal in the final
  • Al-Wehda, who have struggled near the bottom of the league all season, worked hard, especially after they were reduced to 10 men early in the second half

A bad few days for Al-Nassr and their star player, Cristiano Ronaldo, became much worse on Monday after a shock 1-0 loss to Al-Wehda in the semi-final of the King Cup.

It means what might have been the Riyadh side’s best remaining chance of some silverware has slipped away, with their league title hopes looking increasingly slim as the season moves into into its final stages.

It was another miserable evening for Ronaldo, who caused some controversy after last week’s loss to bitter Riyadh rivals Al-Hilal when he grabbed his crotch at the end of the game when the gleeful home fans started chanting Lionel Messi’s name.

This time, there was little sign of any mocking at the final whistle, as the visiting players and their fans were too busy celebrating a famous victory and a place in the final against Al-Ittihad. And this time, Ronaldo knew all too well that he had had — and missed — his team’s best chances.

The last time Ronaldo faced these opponents he scored four goals, and Al-Nassr certainly had plenty of the possession on Monday. But Al-Wehda, who have struggled near the bottom of the Roshn Saudi League all season, worked hard, especially after they were reduced to 10 men early in the second half.

The game started positively for the hosts but, somehow, Ronaldo missed his chance to open the scoring early in the game. The five-time Ballon d’Or winner got on the end of a perfect, left-sided cross from Ghislain Konan but shot straight at goalkeeper Munir Mohamedi from the edge of the six-yard box

Ronaldo’s frustration, and that of the home fans, grew when Al-Wehda took the lead, in some style, midway through the first half. A corner was not cleared sufficiently well by the Yellows and a series of headers led to Oscar Duarte finding Jean-David Beauguel. The Frenchman still had a lot of work to do, with the ball at shoulder height, but he threw himself into the air to twist and volley home, his effort taking goalkeeper Nawaf Al-Aqidi by surprise.

It was a fine goal and inevitably it prompted a response from the favorites, driven on by the vocal Ronaldo who was constantly gesturing to his teammates and the match officials. A tough half of football ended with Ali Al-Hassan shooting just wide from the right side of the area. It was no surprise that Ronaldo could be seen shaking his head as he left the pitch.

Nine minutes after the restart Al-Wehda were reduced to 10 men as Abdullah Al-Hafith received a second yellow for bringing down Ronaldo just outside the area. The Portuguese star stepped up to take the free kick but sent it just over the bar.

The pressure from the hosts intensified and it seemed to be just a matter of time before Al-Nassr scored. Just after the hour, Al-Hassan and Abdulrahman Ghareeb both shot narrowly wide from good positions.

By now, Al-Wehda were sitting deep and getting everyone behind the ball in an attempt to protect their narrow lead, which was very nearly wiped out by Ronaldo with eight minutes remaining. A Ghareeb cross from the left found its way to the star just outside the six-yard box, and the former Real Madrid megastar twisted to fire a shot that beat Munir but not the woodwork, as it bounced off the crossbar. As the 38-year-old sank to his knees in despair and disbelief, it looked as if it was all over.

Not quite, however. There were as many as four, admittedly weak, penalty claims that were not given after checks by the video assistant referee. But there was always likely to be at least one more chance on goal and sure enough, in the 97th minute, Ronaldo reached a floated free-kick before Munir and headed the ball into the path of Luiz Gustavo, whose header was cleared off the line by Duarte.

And that was that. At the end, Ronaldo was not the only one shaking his head and looking to the heavens for answers. The fact is that his ambitious team have lost two and drawn one of their past three games and need to return to winning ways very quickly if a 10th league title is going to be at all possible.

Al-Wehda will not mind too much if most of the post-match attention focuses more on the team that lost; they will be delighted simply to have a chance to win the King’s Cup for the first time since 1966.