El Jaish won the Qatar Cup yesterday, in the process avenging their heartbreaking defeat to Lekhwiya in last year’s final.
The final played at the Al Sadd stadium was a keenly contested affair with the Armymen clinching a deserved 2-1 win after Abderrazzak Hamedallah converted a penalty in the 89th minute to score what turned out to be the winning goal.
Lekhwiya had come into this final having defeated Qatar Stars League champions Al Rayyan in the semi-finals. El Jaish, on the other hand, had survived a late fightback from Al Sadd before eventually emerging victorious 3-2.
Both teams hit the ground running but it was Lekhwiya who dominated the initial proceedings. They were able to build a series of attacks with Mohamed Muntari leading them. But none of those moves troubled El Jaish keeper Khalifa Ndiaye. And then the lanky Qatar striker, who was playing with a heavy bandaged right knee, couldn’t continue and was replaced by Alain Dioko.
After absorbing the initial pressure, El Jaish then turned aggressor. A Sardor Rashidov run down the right flank in the 25th minute almost resulted in a goal when his shot was spilled by Lekhwiya keeper Ivanildo Santos. But Mohamed Tresor’s timely clearance prevented Hamedallah from getting to the loose ball.
Jaish did get the lead five minutes later. Rashidov’s well-directed freekick found Mohamed Methnani and a part head, part shoulder effort from him saw the ball find the back of the net. With their noses ahead, Jaish were now playing with more confidence.
Lekhwiya attempted a few attacks towards the end of the first half, including a Luiz Martin freekick saved by Ndiaye, but the teams went into the break with Jaish in the lead.
With the team lacking bite, Lekhwiya coach Djamel Belmadi brought in striker Ismail Mohamed in place of midfielder Martin. This move brought the desired result as Lekhiwya were now more threatening on the offence. El Jaish were looking to defend their lead and attack on the counter whenever possible.
With Lekhwiya constantly mounting the pressure and the Jaish defence finally committed an error when defender Murad Hussein brought down Khalid Muftah in the 76th minute. The referee Abdulrahman Jassim pointed to the spot. Dioko stepped up, fired in a powerful strike and converted from the spot.
Back on level terms, Lekhwiya were now the more confident side. In the very next minute, Yousef Msakni received a long ball from Karim Boudiaf and looked to flick it past Ndiaye but the Jaish keeper pulled off a great reflex save to deny the Tunisian.
The match was into the final minutes and both teams were getting edgy. Fouls were on the rise and scuffles were breaking out. Both teams were building attacks. And then in the 87th minute Lekhiwya defender Mohamed Musa committed an error which he will remember for a long time.
Musa brought down Magid Mohamed inside the box and the referee had to point to the spot. Abderrazzak made no mistake and Jaish had the lead in the 89th minute.
Despite there being four minutes of added time, Lekhwiya couldn’t find an equaliser and Jaish had managed to avenge their last year’s loss in style. Coach Sabri Lamouchi was an extremely happy man. Jaish have managed to win a piece of silverware this season.
El Jaish players celebrate with the Qatar Cup trophy yesterday at the Al Sadd stadium. Jaish defeated Lekhwiya 2-1 to win the 2016 edition. PICTURESS: Noushad Thekkayil & Shemeer Rasheed