Rodrigo Tabata’s brace powered Al Rayyan to a 3-0 win over Al Gharafa and into the final of the Amir Cup.
At the Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium yesterday, Tabata was at the heart of Rayyan’s impressive performance as they cruised past Gharafa in the semi-final.
Michael Laudrup’s men, who lost in the final to Al Sadd last year, face a mighty challenge this time too as they face Al Duhail in the title clash at the Khalifa International Stadium on May 19.
Djamel Belmadi’s Duhail are unbeaten this year and will be going for a historic domestic treble, having already won the QNB Stars League and Qatar Cup trophies this season.
Rayyan were thrashed 1-6 by Gharafa the last time the two sides met in the league. And Rayyan came into the match vowing to prove a point and redeem their season.
They had dream start when Tabata put them ahead in just the second minute of the game. Gharafa gifted Rayyan possession in the midfield, allowing Tabata to run into the edge of the box, where he picked up Sebastian Soria on the right flank. Soria, after getting past two Gharafa defenders, relayed it back to Tabata, who fired Rayyan in front.
Tabata was the key to his team’s every attacking run as the attacking midfielder tormented Gharafa on the night. If not for goalkeeper Qasim Burhan’s timely interventions Gharafa would have been at least three goals behind in the first-half.
In the 31st minute, Burhan parried away a shot from Soria, who then shot over the bar again two minutes later. Both the chances were set up by Tabata. Burhan was again called into action just before the half-time, when he had to dive to his left to save Yohan Mollo’s low shot.
Rayyan began the second-half as they did the first-half and doubled their lead in the 47th minute courtesy a clever finish from Koh Myong-jin.
The South Korean midfielder received a wonderful pass from Tabata, who played a long ball from the half line. With only goalkeeper to beat, Myong-jin expertly chipped it over Burhan to put Rayyan in the cruise mode.
Gharafa immediately raised their game and looked to have pulled a goal back through substitute Ahmed Alaaeldin, but Rayyan keeper Omar Bari was able to stop a powerful shot.
Alaaeldin, who had scored the winner in the 88th minute against second division side Mesaimeer in the quarter-finals, once again looked a threat in the match. But his teammates let him down and cut an isolated figure as the match went on.
Rayyan players, who had dropped their energy bit, looked a threat in the final ten minutes and had at least three clear chances. In the 86th minute, Tabata hit straight to the keeper after a pass from Mollo, but he wasn’t to be denied in the next minute. Tabata put the match to bed with Soria again making the assist.
Rayyan coach Laudrup was delighted with the victory. “I was a bit surprised at how we dominated the game. We had a great support from the fans and it helped us to put a good show,” he said.
Laudrup called on his players to enjoy the final against Duhail. “We have to enjoy playing in the final. We have to be at our best to beat Duhail and win the title,” the manager from Denmark said.
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