Lekhwiya came from a goal down to defeat El Jaish 2-1 and set up a final clash with Al Sadd in the 2016 Emir Cup. Goals from Nam Tae-Hee and Mohamed Musa helped cancel out Abderrazzak Hamedallah’s early strike and give Djamel Belmadi’s boys a deserving victory.
Earlier in the day, Al Sadd too came from a goal down to defeat Al Rayyan 3-2. A brace from Sadd’s Hassan al-Haydous and a 90th minute strike from Bounejah Baghdad helped the Wolves cancel out Rodrigo Tabata’s brace yesterday and reach the final.
Jaish had defeated Lekhwiya in the Qatar Cup final with a 90th minute goal from Hamedallah. And with the Emir Cup being the last chance for silverware, Lekhiwya were keen to avenge their loss. But it was Hamedallah who provided Jaish with the lead when he converted from the spot in the 28th minute. This goal came against the run of play with Lekhiwya dominating possession. Such was the one sided play that Lekhwiya had raked up six corners in the first 18 minutes.
Lekhwiya continued to dominate play but were unable to get the equalizer. But then just when it looked like Jaish would go into the break with a one-goal lead, Tae-Hee stepped up for a freekick at the edge of the box. The South Korean produced a great freekick, one that curled over the wall and straight into the near corner of the goal. Coach Belmadi’s reaction – running around and punching the air – said it all.
In the second half too, Lekhwiya saw more of the ball then Jaish. They had a few sporadic attempts but none that were too threatening. Lekhwiya brought on striker Mohamed Muntari to increase their scoring chances but it was a short stint that ended in pain. The lanky striker pulled up after being on the pitch for barely a few minutes. The knee injury that seemed to have kept him out seemed to have resurfaced and Muntari was see in tears later as he had to be replaced. Luiz Martin came on in his place.
Lekhwiya continued to look for the goal and though many attempts were wasted they finally got one in through Musa. The defender has an uncanny ability to put himself on the scoresheet and it was he who scored the winning goal, off a corner, in the 79th minute. Lekhwiya will now hope for a similar strong performance against Sadd and look to claim a piece of silverware this season.
Earlier in the day, Sadd claimed a thrilling victory over Rayyan. Jorge Fossati’s won the Qatar Stars League with ease but seem to be on the wane since. They lost the Qatar Cup semi-finals to Lekhiwya 3-1 in a lacklustre performance. Yesterday they began well and had taken the early lead through their captain Tabata. The Rayyan striker won the Masour Muftah award for the most number of goals scored in the QSL and he gave his team the lead in the 12th minute.
But Sadd’s midfielder al-Haydous produced a burst of two goals in two minutes to wrestle back the lead and the initiative. Al-Haydous brought his team on level when he converted from the spot in the 19th minute and then got the end of a Xavi pass on the right and fired the ball into the roof of the net to put Sadd ahead.
After this burst of action there was a lull. Both teams were building attacks but neither was able to find the back of the net. But there was time for drama right towards the end of the match. Sadd scored another great team goal, which started with Xavi orchestrating the move outside the box and ended with Baghdad calmly tapping it in in the 90th minute.
Rayyan were able to reduce the deficit in the 94th minute when Tabata converted the penalty. But it was a goal too late and Sadd claimed a great morale-boosting victory and the bragging rights.
Lekhwiya’s Mohamed Musa (2ndL) celebrates with teammates after scoring against Jaish yesterday. PICTURES: Noushad Thekkayil & Shemeer Rasheed.