Al Sadd took a major step in confirming their Top 4 status this season with a dramatic late 3-2 victory over rivals Lekhwiya in a pulsating QSL clash yesterday. An 86th minute header from Qatari international defender Abdelkarim Hassan proved enough for the Wolves who have opened up a seven point gap on fifth placed Umm Salal.
The game started off at a breakneck pace. After A powerful run, Nadir Belhadj passed Bagdad Bounjah in the six yard box, and the Algerian international quickly relayed the ball to Hassan Haydoos who lashed a fierce shot past Lekhwiya Stopper Claude Amin with just four minutes on the clock.
Lekhwiya found their way back into the tie on the 15th minute. Alain Dioko went past Nadir Belhadj with a nutmeg. Dioko then picked out the onrushing Karim Boudiaf who swept the ball past Sadd stopper Muhannad Naim.
With the game on equal footing, both sides created chances in the bid to to take the lead. On the 27th minute the ever dangerous Bagdad was brought down outside the box. From the resulting free-kick Xavi’s shot was heading for the top corner, but Claude Amin pulled of a good save to tip it over the bar. In the 35th minute, a flashed effort from Lekhwiya left back Khalid Muftah  just went past the post.
Sadd took the lead in the 42nd minute when striker Bounjah was bundled in the area by Tresor and the referee pointed to the spot. Up stepped Hassan Haydoos, whose stuttered run fooled Claude Amin as the ball thundered into the middle of the goal.
Bounjah could of given Sadd a 3-1 lead but his close range shot wastefully went past the post, the first half ended 2-1 to the Wolves.
In the second half Lekhwiya pushed hard for the equaliser and started to pin Al Sadd back. In the 50th minute a smart ball from Nam Tae Hee found Alain Dioko. But the Congolese striker fluffed his lines at the vital moment; the ensuring goal mouth scramble was eventually cleared by the Sadd defence.
The tie swung in the favour of Al Sadd when defender Mohamed Musa was shown a red card for a second bookable offence on the 60th minute. Despite being a man down, it was Lekhwiya who looked likely to grab an equalizer. The closest they came to scoring was a thunderous Isamail Mohammed shot which fell to the Qatari international from a Nam Tae Hee corner. Thankfully Sadd stopper Muhannad Naim denied him with a good save.
Lekhwiya’s perseverance eventually paid off in the 84th minute when Ismael Mohamed levelled the scores at 2-2 from close range for his side. The pacy winger turned in a Nam Tae Hee cross to the delight of head coach Djamel Belmadi.
Belmadi’s joy was short-lived however, when Sadd grabbed the winner just two minutes later. A pinpoint free-kick from Xavi found an unmarked Abdelkarim Hassan whose header gave Al Sadd the winner.

Qatari and Palestinian football associations sign co-operation agreement
Qatar Football Association (QFA) yesterday signed a co-operation agreement with the Palestinian Football Association.  
President of QFA HE Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa bin Ahmed al-Thani signed the agreement with his Palestinian counterpart Jibril Rajoub. The agreement comes in the context of enhancing relations between the two associations.  
The two associations aim to exchange expertise in developing the sport in the two countries through holding tournaments and hosting Palestinian football professionals for specialised courses. The two sides agreed that enhancing co-operation in more fields will be beneficial to both sides in the future.  
Rajoub said that signing the agreement reflects Qatar’s commitment towards developing sports in Palestine. He praised the Qatari football model and said Palestinian athletes will benefit greatly from Qatar’s experience in the field. He stressed that the Palestinian people are fully behind Qatar’s hosting of 2022, expressing the pride at having an Arab country host the prestigious tournament for the first time in history. He also praised Qatar for hosting the Palestinian national team’s training camps. (QNA)

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