JEDDAH — In a thrilling highlight of the 26th round of the Saudi Professional League, Al-Ahli secured a crucial win over their city rivals Al-Ittihad, thanks to a lone goal scored by the young striker Firas Al-Buraikan in the first half.

This victory has strengthened Al-Ahli's hold on the third position in the league standings, bringing their point total to 51 and widening the gap with fourth-placed Al-Ittihad to five points after their points froze at 46 following the defeat.

The King Abdullah Sports City Stadium was packed with fans from both teams, witnessing an attendance of 50,633 spectators. The match began amid a vibrant atmosphere, slightly delayed due to colored smoke that obscured the view at the stadium.

Al-Ahli, buoyed by the return of Senegalese goalkeeper Edouard Mendy and Ivorian midfielder Kessie, launched offensive attempts from the start. In contrast, Al-Ittihad felt the absence of certain key players, with young Farha Al-Shamrani stepping in midfield to fill the void left by Faisal Al-Ghamdi, who was on duty with the Saudi Olympic team.

The match witnessed intense competition, with Al-Ittihad's Brazilian star Romarinho coming close to scoring, followed by a strong response from Al-Ahli's Al-Buraikan, who narrowly missed a close-range opportunity.

The breakthrough came in the 34th minute when Al-Buraikan skillfully converted a cross from Brazilian Roberto Firmino, placing the ball past Al-Ittihad's goalkeeper Abdullah Al-Mayouf to score the first and only goal of the match.

Before the end of the first half, Al-Mayouf made a crucial save against a powerful shot from Al-Ahli's Allan Saint-Maximin. The second half saw Al-Ahli continuing their offensive push, seeking a second goal to cement their lead.

Al-Ittihad's Hassan Kadish posed a real threat to Al-Ahli's goal with a header, but Mendy was up to the challenge. The woodwork denied Al-Ittihad's N'Golo Kanté in the 72nd minute, keeping Al-Ahli in the lead.

In the dying minutes of the match, Al-Ittihad intensified their attacks, with Karim Benzema's header being brilliantly saved by Mendy in the 76th minute. A powerful strike from Firmino found the net once more for Al-Ahli, but the goal was disallowed for offside.

The match concluded with a header from Kanté in the final moments, but once again, Mendy secured Al-Ahli's win with a superb save, sealing the Jeddah derby in favor of Al-Ahli.

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