Rui Vitória is the latest Portuguese to celebrate a trophy after Al-Nassr were crowed Saudi Arabian Pro League champions on Thursday, ending a recent spell of domination by three-time champions Al-Hilal.
The former Benfica boss, who left the Estadio da Luz at the start of January following 3.5 years at the helm, took control of Al-Nassr shortly after leaving Lisbon and has successfully overthrown leaders Al-Nassr to regain the title for his new club.
When Vitória arrived in Riyadh, he was expected to renew his rivalry with Jorge Jesus in the Saudi capital, with the veteran Jesus then coaching table toppers and defending champions Al-Hilal. However, Jesus left his role just weeks later over a contractual dispute, since when Vitória’s side have managed to wrestle 1st place from their local rivals.
Related article: Jorge Jesus leaves Al-Hilal
Key to Vitória’s success was an eight-match winning run during which Al-Nassr beat Al-Hilal 3-2 at home in March thanks to a 97th-minute winner from Brazilian defender Bruno Uvini. Al-Nassr clinched the title on Thursday with a 2-1 win over Al-Batin, while the team are also healthily placed in the Asian Champions League having already secured qualification from the group phase with one match to play.
I’m a WINNER! 💪🏻🥇pic.twitter.com/1RdR4oW4kq— AlNassr FC (@AlNassrFC_EN) May 16, 2019
Pedro Emanuel up for award after King’s Cup win
Vitória’s success marks a Portuguese double in Saudi Arabia, with former Porto defender Pedro Emanuel winning the King’s Cup with Al-Taawon earlier this month. Emanuel’s side caused upsets in both the semi-final and the final, beating Al-Hilal 5-0 in the last four and overcoming favourites Al-Ittihad to lift the trophy. The 44-year-old has been named on the shortlist for Coach of the Year in recognition of his achievement.
By Sean Gillen