Al Sadd’s Hamza Senhadji (left) celebrates after scoring the opening goal in his team’s QSL match against Al Rayyan yesterday. PICTURES: Othman Iraqi
By Sports Reporter/Doha
Al Rayyan’s record-breaking run of QSL wins has finally been halted after Al Sadd claimed a pulsating victory in the Qatar Classico yesterday.
The Wolves won 2-1 at Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium after a frenetic match in front of two passionate sets of fans. Goals from Hamza Senhadji and Muriqui secured victory for Sadd, who went into the game on the back of two defeats. It was also a first win for new Sadd coach Jesualdo Ferreira – and it came at the perfect moment for Wolves fans.
The result means Rayyan’s run of consecutive wins comes to an end after 11 matches. Despite the defeat, the Lions are nine points clear at the top and will remain confident of claiming a first QSL title since 1995. Sadd are now up to second place, with 24 points from 12 matches.
Rayyan dominated possession for long periods and created numerous chances throughout the 90 minutes. But their front three of Sebastian Soria, Sergio Garcia and Rodrigo Tabata at times struggled to break down Sadd’s resolute back line.
The teams produced a breathless, end-to-end first half which was full of thrills and spills. There were numerous chances at both ends, but it was the league leaders who looked the more dangerous side in the early stages. Soria had the game’s first clear-cut chance but headed straight at Saad Al Sheeb in the Sadd goal.
Sadd’s first opportunity came in the 10th minute. Captain Xavi Hernandez and Muriqui were involved in creating a chance for Khalfan Ibrahim, but the Qatari international dragged his shot wide.
It wasn’t long before the Wolves went in front though. In the 16th minute, Ali Assadalla hit a delicious through-ball to put Senhadji through on goal, and the forward made no mistake with a composed left-footed finish past Omar Bari.
Sadd almost doubled their lead just three minutes later. Ibrahim collected the ball in the penalty area from Hassadalla but couldn’t prevent his lob from landing on top of the net.
Rayyan equalised in the 23rd minute through Garcia’s seventh goal of the season. The Spanish forward headed home after a slick move involving Soria, Tabata and Mohammed Gumaa.
Soon after Garcia had a chance to give Rayyan the lead, but his left-footed strike from inside the area was straight at Al Sheeb.
Jorge Fossati’s men continued to create chances as the game approached half-time. Soria tested Al Sheeb with a powerful drive in the 32nd minute, while Tabata hit a low show straight at the goalkeeper just before the break. Garcia also warmed Al Sheeb’s palms on the stroke of half-time.
Despite Rayyan’s dominance towards the end of the first half, it was Sadd who went in front at the break. Senhadji grabbed the assist this time with an inviting cross which Muriqui bundled into the goal from just a few yards out.
The pace of the game reduced in the second half, with Rayyan throwing everything at the Sadd defence as they searched for an equaliser. The Wolves held firm, however, and the closest Rayyan came was through a long-distance free-kick. Tabata opted to shoot from 35 yards, and his dipping, swerving effort had Al Sheeb flailing as it crashed off the post.
Sadd had a chance to finish the game in the 87th minute with a free-kick from just outside the penalty area. Xavi hit the dead ball sweetly but Bari palmed the ball clear.
Rayyan continued to press in the final throes, but Sadd held firm to record a famous win. Wolves fans will be hoping the result reignites their season and paves the way for a title tilt.
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