By Sports Reporter/Doha
Goal-machine Youssef El Arabi scored a brace as Al Duhail powered back to the top of the QNB Stars League standings with a 4-1 rout of Umm Salal at the Al Gharafa Stadium yesterday.
Moroccan El Arabi, who was the top scorer in the league last season with 24 goals, appears set to break his own record this time, taking his tally to 10 in just five matches.
His ominous form, complemented by the brilliance of the equally effective Nam Tae-Hee and Youssef Msakni, was chiefly instrumental in Lekhwiya winning the Qatar Stars League for the fifth time last season.
Nam and Msakni also registered on the scoresheet yesterday underlining the troika’s overwhelming influence on their team’s fortunes.
With the tournament now rebranded as QNB Stars League and Lekhwiya too undergoing a makeover after its merger with El Jaish to form Al Duhail, Djamel Belmadi’s boys have served notice to their rivals early in the current season.
Yesterday, Umm Salal spent most of the match chasing shadows as Al Duhail dominated them from the start.
Al Duhail were quick off the blocks when South Korean star Nam flicked one from inside the Umm Salal box and beat the goalkeeper Basel Zaidan in the fifth minute.
It was a welcome sight for their coach Djamel Belmadi, who returned after missing two league games because of suspension.
Umm Salal, coached by Mahmoud Jaber, produced a string of attacks in the following minutes, but were denied by Al Duhail goalkeeper Khalifa Abubacar.
However, Al Duhail’s mercurial Moroccan striker El Arabi fired his ninth league goal of the season to help his team consolidate when he deflected a neat cross from Ali Hassan past Zaidan in the 40th minute.
Al Duhail went into the half-time break knowing they enjoyed 60 per cent of ball possession in the fast-paced first half.
They continued their domination in the second session with El Arabi easily converting a penalty kick to take his tally to two in the match.
A couple of minutes later, he chipped in a neat cross to Msakni, who fired home from close.
Substitute Bazman Khoubiari pulled one back for Umm Salal in the 87th minute.
Al Duhail, who now lead Al Sadd in the standings on goal difference (both have 15 points) next face Al Gharafa, while Umm Salal will be up against Al Khor.
In the second match of the day Al Ahli registered their first win of the tournament, beating Qatar Sports Club 3-0.
Meshaal Abdulla was the hero for Al Ahli with a brace, while Yasine Chikhaoui found the target once.
Al Ahli languish ninth in the standings with five points, while Qatar Sports Club lie 10th with four.
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