Rayyan win derby against Arabi, inch closer to QSL title
February 20 2016 11:25 PM
Action from the match between Al Rayyan and Al Arabi yesterday. Pictures: Naushad Thekkayil & Othman Iraqi

By Sports Reporter/Doha

Al Rayyan are just two wins away from claiming the QSL title after a pulsating derby victory against ten-man Al Arabi.   
Jorge Fossati’s side are now 17 points clear at the top and need just five more points to claim a first Falcon Shield since 1995. Arabi, meanwhile, have dropped out of the top four and will need a strong finish to the season to regain a spot in the Qatar Cup places.   
On a night when influential captain Rodrigo Tabata was missing for Rayyan, Sergio Garcia stepped up to score both goals at Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium. The Spaniard’s first strike came early in the second half. The former Espanyol star latched on to a misplaced pass, powered towards goal and slotted the ball past Rajab Hamza despite close attention from Mohammed Shaaban and Ali Jasimi.   
Garcia’s second goal came in the 70th minute. His strike partner Sebastian Soria powered down the right flank, crossed for Garcia, and Rayyan’s number nine slotted home his 11th goal of what’s turning into a landmark season for the Lions.   
Arabi had plenty of chances to score, not least when Rayyan were leading 1-0. Shaaban’s downward header was well saved by Omar Bari in the 58th minute before Dame Traore smashed an effort against the bar from point blank range when it appeared easier to score. 
Arabi’s task to salvage anything from the game was practically ended in the 76th minute when Adel Lami was sent off after being shown a second yellow card for a challenge on Hamid Ismail. The defender was earlier booked for a poor tackle on Soria.   
Rayyan created further chances to score in the second half. Garcia almost made it a hat-trick with a low drive from the edge of area, while Victor Caceres had an effort saved by Hamza. Substitute Mohammed Alaaeldin also had a chance late on but his effort was well saved.   
In the first half it was Hamza who kept Arabi in the game. He saved well after a neat turn and shot from Soria and was alert enough to deflect Sergio Garcia’s low shot onto the crossbar after the striker found himself through on a goal after a defensive error. Hamza also had to be alert to keep out a powerful Soria header in the 19th minute.   
Arabi’s best chance in the first half fell to Alan Souza. Slack defending from Rayyan allowed the Brazilian a chance to shoot and it took a fine save from Omar Bari to deflect the effort onto the post and behind.   After a slow period, the game sprung to life late in the first half. Paulinho fired over after being set up by Boualem Khouki before Rayyan created two good chances on the stroke of half-time. Mohammed Gumaa’s left-footed shot was inches wide, while Koh Myong-jin had an effort deflected to safety after good work from Soria.   
In truth Rayyan always appeared to have an extra gear and it was no surprise when they went in front in the second half. Their incredible season shows no signs of being halted and despite the fact we have not reached March, the title is almost in their hands.

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