By Sports Reporter Doha
In the end, the wolf pack proved to be stronger than the lions. The first-ever Emir Cup held at the new Khalifa International Stadium yesterday saw Al Sadd defeat Al Rayyan 2-1 in a keenly-contested affair. This historic final, which was preceded by the inauguration of the stadium itself, was an action-packed affair. And it took an injury-time goal for Sadd to win the trophy.
Rayyan had taken the lead through Rodrigo Tabata in the 49th minute. Sadd drew level when Hassan al-Haydous converted a penalty in the 56th minute. And then in the 91st minute, Hamroun Jugurtha produced a great finish to ensure that it was his team’s name on the trophy.
The 45th edition of the Emir Cup final had promised to be a lively affair because of the two teams involved. Both Sadd and Rayyan are known for their attacking style of play. They also had two of the biggest and loudest sets of supporters in Qatar. And that was on display yesterday.
Right at the start itself, just three minutes into the game Rayyan defender Musaab Keder managed a strong run down the left flank but his eventual cross was poor. Three minutes later, Sadd had the ball inside the Rayyan goal but the goal was disallowed because of off-side.
In the ninth minute, a crucial save from Rayyan keeper Oumar Barry denied Baghdad Bounedjah the opening goal. Sadd were starting to look more lethal. But in the 14th minute it was Rayyan who could have taken the lead. Skipper Tabata delivered one of this trademark freekicks but it was just wide of the goal.
Things settled into stasis after this. Both teams enjoyed a fair share of possession but neither goalkeeper had much to do.
The second half began with promise for Sadd. Rayyan defender Mohamed Abdalmtaal, in trying to head the ball clear from inside the box, delivered it straight at Xavi’s feet but the Spaniard hit straight at Rayyan keeper Barry.
But after coming that close it was Rayyan who took the lead. Tabata got the ball inside the box and though his first shot was blocked by Sadd keeper Saad al-Dosari, the Rayyan skipper was able to dispatch the rebound into the back of the net. Rayyan fans were delirious at their team having taken the lead.
The tempo of the game picked up after that with Sadd eager for the equaliser. And that came in the 56th minute. Bounedjah was fouled inside the box and Italian referee Rocchi Gianluca had no hesitation in pointing to the spot. Al-Haydous calmly converted the penalty and Sadd were level.
In the 61st minute, Rayyan coach Michael Laudrup brought on key striker Sebastian Soria in place of Ahmed Alaaeddine. And Rayyan could have taken the lead in the 69th minute if not for the brilliance of the Sadd keeper. Gonzalo Viera header looked like it was going into the goal till al-Dosari pushed the ball out just in time.
In the 77th minute, Bounedjah had a chance but his shot was deflected over the bar.
Then, just when it looked like the match would go into penalties, two players produced moments of magic. The first came from Xavi. The Sadd skipper controlled the ball with a back heel, took it forward with a header and laid down a great through pass. Jugurtha got to the end of it, ran down the right flank, got past one defender and then, as he was being pressurised by Keder, fired a great shot into the roof of the net in the 91st minute.
Just minutes before the goal, Jugurtha had pulled up in the field and was going to be substituted. But he carried on and Sadd will be very thankful that he did.
In the 93rd minute, Sergio Garcia could have scored the equaliser but he couldn’t connect properly inside the box and the chance was wasted.
Sadd were the favourites coming into this match and they proved their mettle once again. They have secured a domestic double with this triumph. They had won the Qatar Cup and now have the prestigious Emir Cup against their name. This is the second trophy for Xavi and coach Jesualdo Ferreira.
This is a win the Wolves will remember for a long time to come, having become the first team to win a trophy at the new Khalifa International Stadium.
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