Firmino ends Saudi Arabia misery: Star scores in warning to Salah | Football | Sport

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Former Liverpool striker Roberto Firmino has finally broken his six-month goal drought at Al-Ahli as the Saudi Pro League resumed, after a staggering 18 matches without scoring.

The ex-Liverpool star returned from his team’s mid-season break and found the back of the net for the first time since August. Firmino had started the season with a bang, scoring a hat-trick in his debut match, but hadn’t managed to score again until Friday night.

Firmino’s struggles have mirrored that of several former Premier League stars who have made the move to the Middle East, and serves continuous food-for-thought for former Liverpool team-mate Mohamed Salah as the forward mulls over a stratospheric offer to make the switch this summer.

The 32 year old Firmino managed to equalise from the penalty spot just before half-time after Al-Ahli had fallen behind twice to Al Akhdoud.

Alex Collado and Hamed Al Mansour each gave the hosts a lead, but an own goal from Solomon Kvirkvella brought Firmino’s team level before the Brazilian’s penalty made it two-all.

Unfortunately, this wasn’t enough for the Jeddah-based side to secure a point. A second-half goal from Leandre Tawamba sealed victory for Akhdoud.

While Firmino may have ended his goal-scoring woes, the result saw Al-Ahli, which also boasts players like Riyad Mahrez, Allan Saint-Maximin, Franck Kessie and Edouard Mendy, suffer their first defeat since October, bringing an eight-game unbeaten run to a halt. Firmino’s team currently sit third in the table, trailing Al-Hilal by 16 points.

The former Hoffenheim striker played for Liverpool 362 times before moving to the Middle East when his contract with the Reds ended. Firmino signed a three-year contract with Al-Ahli and was made captain before the first match of the season.

Despite scoring 111 goals for Liverpool, Firmino has struggled to find the back of the net in Saudi Arabia. After scoring a hat-trick on the opening day, the Figueirense youth product has had difficulty scoring goals.

Firmino played almost every minute in the first 11 league matches before being benched due to his struggles. Before returning on Friday, Firmino had only played 94 minutes across seven appearances.

The Brazilian star had a difficult time after moving to the Middle East. Firmino tragically lost his father Jose Roberto Cordeiro, aged 62, in November following a heart attack in Dubai.

There was a lot of speculation about a possible departure during the winter period with Al-Fateh showing interest in a loan deal while Liverpool legend Steven Gerrard was thought to be interested in signing Firmino for Al-Ettifaq.

A return to Europe was also suggested though it was said Firmino had no intention of leaving Al-Ahli, despite reported interest from Barcelona.


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