Al Duhail clinched their first QNB Stars League title in three years, after Michael Olunga struck four goals in 5-2 win over relegation-threatened Al Shamal Monday.
The Red Knights just had to draw their final fixture in front of their fans at the Abdullah bin Khalifa Stadium for their eighth title, but Duhail did in style with a comprehensive win, easing any nerves. Duhail finished on 51 points, two ahead of Al Arabi, who beat two-time defending champions Al Sadd 2-1 Monday.
“Qatar is a lucky country for us Argentineans, my country won the World Cup here and now as an Argentina, I have three trophies in my first season which is amazing,” a delighted Duhail coach Hernan Crespo said recalling Lionel Messi’s side World Cup triumph in December.
“We fought very hard throughout the season because the opponents like Al Arabi and Al Sadd were very difficult. I want to thank the players, the entire management and all people who were involved with the club,” added Crespo, who has lead Duhail to title in first year at the helm.
Shamal, meanwhile, will go into a play-off match against Second Division runners-up Al Khor to stay in the top-flight. Monday, Al Sailiya finished bottom of the 12-team league and were relegated from the league after losing 0-1 to Al Wakrah, who finished in fourth place to seal a spot in next season's Qatar Cup. Second Division champions Muaither SC were promoted to next season's QNB Stars League.
Duhail dominated from the start and went ahead when Almoez Ali scored in the seventh minute. Olunga then took over as the Kenyan striker scored a quick hat-trick in the 21st, 32nd and 35th minute as Duhail went 4-0 up at half-time.
Shamal reduced the deficit three minutes into the second half after Argentine Matias Nani converted a penalty. But four minutes later, Olunga restored the four-goal advantage to finish the season with 22 goals and win the Mansour Muftah Award for Top Scorer. With Duhail already in celebration mode, Mustafa Tariq Mashal scored in stoppage time for Shamal.
At the Jassim bin Hamad Stadium, Arabi finished second after a 2-1 win over Al Sadd, who rested eight regulars. Both the teams will once again clash on Friday in the final of the prestigious Amir Cup final.
Arabi took the lead in the second minute through Abdullah al-Marafee, while the prolific Omar al-Somah added a second in the 55th minute. Substitute Baghdad Bounedjah pulled a goal back in stoppage time for Sadd, who finished third with 44 points, seven adrift of bitter rivals Duhail.
Soon after the match started, al-Marafee struck from ten yards outside the box in fine style after advancing on his own to set the tone for Arabi. They doubled their lead post break with their highest scorer of the season – al -Somah – heading off a Yousef Muftah assist for his 19th goal.
Sadd’s consolation goal came late when Hassan al-Haydos’ long kick from far on the right flank was headed in by Bounedjah. Arabi had a whirlwind start to the season and were leading the table prior to the World Cup break, but they suffered a few reversals towards the business end of the tournament and would be proud of their runners-up finish.
Sadd, who had a converse start owing to the absence of several stars who were doing duties for their respective national teams, made a big climb towards the end, but were edged by both Arabi and eventual winners Duhail.
Meanwhile, Al Rayyan survived relegation after they beat Al Gharafa 4-1 at the Grand Hamad Stadium. The -needed win helped The Lions steer clear of the relegation zone as they ended up 9th in the league standings with a tally of 20 points. Al Gharafa with 32 points finished a creditable sixth.
Rayyan began their pursuit in right earnest and struck early with Mohamed Emad Aiash (8th minute), Yohan Boli (51st minute), Jesisson Vargas (61st minute) and Abdulaziz Hatem (66th minute) delivering the goals. The only consolation goal for The Cheetahs was scored by Moyad Hassan in the 70th minute.