Al Duhail staged a remarkable fightback to record a stunning 4-1 win over Al Sadd to defend their Amir Cup title last night. The star of the show was Edmilson, the Duhail winger lighting up the newly-built Al Janoub Stadium with two superb goals and setting up another, to announce his arrival on the big stage.

After a 15-minute short, but dazzling opening ceremony, which depicted Al Wakrah’s heritage, the 2022 World Cup venue was renamed as Al Janoub by His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani. The 38,678 crowd that packed the stadium then witnessed one of the feisty encounters in the history of Amir Cup.

Al Sadd, gunning for a domestic double after winning the QNB Stars League last month, lost the plot completely after having taken the lead in just the sixth minute. By the end of the 90 minutes, three Al Sadd players - Tarik Salman, Hamad Ismail and Baghdad Bounedjah - were sent off on a forgettable night for Jesualdo Ferreira’s men.

Duhail had to deal with their own disciplinary issues after some sloppy defending saw them trailing by a goal, before Qatar’s Asian Cup hero Almoez Ali was given the marching orders after two clumsy fouls led to red card in the 26th minute. Losing Almoez so early in the match could have easily led Duhail to defensive tactics, but Rui Faria’s men seemed rejuvenated without their key player.

It was Al Sadd, the pre-match favourites, who started the match on front foot, pushing the Duhail defence deep. And the opening goal didn’t take long to come. Spanish legend midfield Xavi Hernandez, playing his last game of his glittering career, found Hassan al-Haydous on the right wing who then crossed the ball to Gabi. The Spaniard then just tapped the ball into Akram Afif, who had all the time in the world to shoot the ball into the net.

Duhail did not take long time to respond. Edmilson proved a handful for the Al Sadd defenders, with the Belgian-born Brazilian shooting wide from a promising position. However, Duhail found the equaliser in the 16th minute through Ali Afif, the elder brother of Sadd forward, Akram.

Ali slipped the ball past the Duhail players before it hit Bounedjah and landed in front of Almoez, who passed into Ali as the latter finished expertly to finish a move he had started.

Duhail had the momentum then but Almoez’s red card put Al Sadd in the driving seat. But they couldn’t capitalise on the half-chances with their top-scorer Bounedjah off-colour on the night.

Miguel Pedro came closest before half time but the Al Sadd defender’s shot flew past Amin Lecomte as teams went into break locked at 1-1.

At resumption, Faria brought in his main weapon Youssef El Arabi for Assim Madibo after the Moroccan striker started from the bench with a hamstring niggle. And El Arabi played a crucial role along with Edmilson to lead Duhail to the title.

The match’s turning point came in the 55th minute when El Arabi played a through ball to Edmilson, who was goal bound before being brought down by Tarik Salman at the edge of the box.

Referee Abdulrahman al-Jassim showed a straight red to Salman, as Duhail players went in for the kill. Three minutes later, Duhail took lead the after Edmilson received a pass from Ali Afif and beat goalkeeper Saad al-Dosari. In the 62nd minute, El Arabi increased the lead with a neat finish before Edmilson piled on the misery for Al Sadd with another clinical goal.

Al Sadd went all out for a comeback but were thwarted by Duhail’s solid defence. In the end frustration got the better of Sadd players. While substitute Hamid Ismail received two yellow cards in a short span, Bounedjah was shown a straight card after pushing Ahmed Yasser.

While Ismail and Bounedjah went for the exit, Al Duhail players celebrated a famous triumph in the first match ever held at the Al Janoub Stadium. It was their first trophy under Faria, who took over in January from Nabil Maaloul. They also banished their disappointment of finishing second behind Al Sadd in the league and had also lost to Al Rayyan on penalties in the season-opening Sheikh Jassim Cup last August.

The star of the day, Edmilson, was thrilled with the victory. “It was great to score against Al Sadd in the final. It was an amazing experience playing in a new stadium. I thank all my colleagues and coach for the victory,” the 24-year-old said.

Ali Afif, who also had a terrific game, said: “We put out our best performance of the event in the final. The match was great. They also played well but we stuck to our guns and dominated the match. We were united on the pitch. We hope we can play even better when the next season starts. I applaud our team management for taking care of all the needs of the players.”

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