Sports 0 2 min readNeymar makes debut as Al-Hilal hands Al-Riyadh 6-1 thrashing 17 Sep 2023, 12:00 am0 author N Agency :Neymar departed his long-awaited debut with Al Hilal’s fervent support chanting his name. He tapped the club badge on his chest, clapped back at the fans, raised his thumb to the masses, and made the “heart” sign with his hands. He then disappeared down the tunnel, the promise of much more to come filling the Prince Faisal bin Fahd Stadium. Neymar had been on the pitch for 35 minutes or so on Friday night, introduced to a rousing reception just after the hour in Hilal’s home encounter with Al Riyadh. By then, the hosts were already 2-0 to the good, Hilal easing past their opponents to move back top of the still-embryonic Saudi Pro League table. To be fair, their unbeaten start to the season had by then felt secure. Yet Neymar sought to make an impact. It was almost instant. Four minutes after coming on, he received the ball on the edge of the Riyadh area from compatriot Malcom and scooped a delicious pass in return. From there, Malcom was clattered by Riyadh goalkeeper Martin Campana, but the ball fell to Nasser Al Dawsari to place into the empty net. Not long had passed before Neymar assisted Malcom for Hilal’s fourth. He broke clear on the counter and played in his fellow Brazilian to squirm a shot under Campana. Moments later, Neymar cut inside an opponent to force a handball, leaving Salem Al Dawsari to convert from the spot. The Hilal faithful mocked booed Al Dawsari taking the penalty, preferring instead for Neymar to open his club account. He did, though, nearly score. Campana pawed away the ball superbly from close range; then palmed another Neymar shot into Salem Al Dawsari’s path. The captain pounced to round off the result. Hilal triumphed 6-1. One full month after signing with arguably Asia’s foremost club, Neymar announced his arrival. Of course, circumstances permitted it. Riyadh offered little resistance, understandably hindered by Hilal’s robust recruitment this summer. Neymar, signed after the 2023/24 league opener and prevented by injury from featuring since, was the only of the club’s seven high-profile additions that did not start on Friday. His absence has not impeded Hilal – Jorge Jesus’ side have five wins and a draw from six matches – but his belated availability indicates even better times ahead. Neymar had hinted as much on his return to the pitch last week. Thrust back into action for Brazil in their opening qualifiers for the 2026 World Cup, he scored twice in the 5-1 victory against Bolivia and created the only goal, in injury-time, away at Peru. The brace against Bolivia lifted Neymar beyond Pele as Brazil’s all-time leading goalscorer. However, his overall play in the double-header enthused greatly the Hilal support. Obviously buoyed to be back, Neymar slalomed past rivals, teed-up teammates, was full of the flair and the touches that make him the marquee signing of the Saudi top-flight’s Big Breakout this summer. Malcom celebrates scoring Al Hilal’s fourth goal with Neymar in their 6-1 Saudi Pro League win over Al Riyadh at Prince Faisal bin Fahd Stadium on September 15.