By Sports Reporter/Doha
Defending champions Al Sadd made a cracking start to their QNB Stars League campaign, scoring an emphatic 4-1 win over Al Wakrah in the opening match of the new season at the Sheikh Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium yesterday.
Al Sadd’s goals were scored by Abdulaziz al-Ansari (ninth minute), Abdelkarim Hassan (74th) and Ahmed Sayyar (84th and 90th minutes), while Al Wakrah’s only goal came from Mohamed Benyettou in the 26th minute.
Al Sadd were given a fright in the first half which saw the teams finish with one goal apiece, but hit their groove late in the match to give a very involved Xavi his first league win in Qatar.
A few months ago Xavi had inspired Al Sadd to their record 14th league title and the Spaniard was busy over the past few weeks steering his side to the quarter-finals of the AFC Champions League and the Sheikh Jassim Cup title, his first piece of silverware as the coach.
Al Sadd began the game and well and had a scoring chance in the third minute. Akram Afif sent in a cross after a short corner and the unmarked Pedro rose to head the ball, but it went just over the bar.
The Wolves made the breakthrough in the ninth minute. Abdulaziz al-Ansari controlled an aerial pass from Afif, before slotting the ball past Saoud al-Khater to score the opening goal of the season
In the 15th minute, Afif was sent through on goal by Gabi, but he was brought down by the last defender Ali Malallah. The referee consulted VAR before sending off the Al Wakrah player.
Despite being a man down, Al Wakrah managed to equalise in the 26th minute through Mohamed Benyettou, who tapped in past Saad al-Dosari, after Cristian Ceballos’ cross from the right.
Xavi made an early substitution in the 35th minute, taking off Akram Afif and bringing on Hassan al-Haydos, who played up front alongside Abdulaziz al-Ansari and Hashim Ali.
At the start of the second half, Xavi made another change, sending on Ahmed Sayyar in place of Hamid Ismail.
Al-Haydos almost scored in the 55th minute, slipping the ball past the onrushing keeper but Al Wakrah captain Bruno Uvini made a last-ditch clearance inches away from the goal-line.
Al Sadd finally got back in the lead in the 74th minute, when Abdelkarim Hassan scored. Al-Ansari sent in a cross from the right, with the ball evading everyone before falling to Abdelkarim who lashed in with his left foot to make it 2-1.
Ahmed Sayyar then scored twice in the space of six minutes to extend Al Sadd’s lead further. In the 84th minute, Ali Asad dribbled past his marker and squared the ball for Sayyar to finish off. Sayyar made it 4-1 in the 89th minute with a close range strike.
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