Steven Gerrard lost his first match in charge of Al-Ettifaq after being beaten 2-0 by a strong Al-Hilal side in Riyadh.
The visitors, led by Jordan Henderson, were unable to claw their way back into the game after goals from former Barcelona stars Malcom and Salem Aldawsari in the first half.
With the win, Al-Hilal closes the gap on Saudi Pro League leaders Al-Ittihad to two points, while Al-Ettifaq remains in fifth place with only seven points from four games.
Gerrard has now gone winless in his last two games as manager of one of Saudi Arabia’s major clubs. It seems like a terrible start to his management career in the Middle East.
Former Fulham striker Aleksandr Mitrovic made his home debut, scoring with a signature header after joining the club for £50million.
However, they are still waiting for Neymar to make his debut while he recovers from an injury.
Meanwhile, Sergej Milinkovic-Savic was suspended after being sent off in their 4-0 away win against Al-Raed the previous week. They were bolstered by ex-Chelsea defender Kalidou Koulibaly and ex-Wolves midfielder Ruben Neves.
Steven Gerrard suffers his first Saudi Pro League defeat as his team was defeated by visitors ‘Al-Ittihad’
Henderson took charge of Al-Ettifaq in his first away match since recovering from a short illness. However, he struggled early on as Al-Hilal scored twice in the first half.
Malcom, a Brazilian striker, put the hosts ahead in the 24th minute after Mitrovic played some great build-up play.
The 26-year-old pounced onto a through-ball and finished with a thunderous strike across goal into the bottom corner.
Gerrard‘s team’s woes were exacerbated when Aldawsari increased the hosts’ lead only four minutes before halftime with a superb shot.
The 32-year-old rifled a scissor-kick finish past the Al-Ettifaq goalie after a bouncing ball ricocheted around the penalty area.
The visitors attempted late substitutions to counter. But, they lacked effectiveness in the final third, allowing the hosts to glide to victory.