By Sports Reporter/Doha
Hamdi Harbaoui scored a double as Al Arabi defeated neighbourhood rivals Al Ahli 3-1 to make a winning start in the QNB Stars League yesterday.
The match played at the Al Janoub Stadium saw Tunisian veteran Harbaoui score in the 23rd and 68th minutes, with Pierre-Michel Lasogga chipping in with Al Arabi’s second goal, in the 51st.
Hernan Gonzalez scored the lone goal for Al Ahli in the 35th minute.
Al Arabi, coached by Icelander Heimir Hallgrimsson, were on the attack mode right from the beginning. The Dream Team took the lead when Harbaoui, who excelled for Qatar SC in the 2014-15 season, capitalised on Yusuf Abdurizag’s good work by heading in the ball.
Al Ahli equalised through Hernan after captain Nabil El Zhar did the spadework.
Al Arabi dominated possession (53 per cent) in the first half.
Al Arabi goalkeeper Gregory Gomez thwarted Gonzalez early into the match and Al Ahli custodian Ivan Rodriguez easily saved Abdurizag’s attempt as the first half ended goalless.
Not long after restart, Lasogga put Al Arabi ahead again off a corner kick taken by Mohamed Salal El Neel.
Al Arabi made matters beyond The Brigadiers’ control when Harbaoui pounced on a rebound from the Al Ahli goalkeeper and placed the ball home.
Al Ahli would rue a chance missed by new recruit Gonzalez as he came up with a feeble shot that was saved by the Al Arabi goalkeeper after the former was put through by Abdulla Abdulsalam.
Meanwhile, in the second match of the day, Mahmoud al-Mawas starred with two goals as Umm Salal held Al Rayyan 2-2.
Al Rayyan, who finished fourth last season, have a string of stars in their line-up, most notably veterans Rodrigo Tabata and Sebastian Soria, but it was Syrian al-Mawas who stole the show at the Jassim bin Hamad Stadium.
The midfielder stunned the Al Rayyan defence with a sixth minute goal, latching in to a pass from the deep and getting around the deep defence with a fine run to score from the top of the box.
But barely had Umm Salal’s celebrations died down when Al Rayyan produced the equaliser in stunning style with South Korean Lee Jae-ik pouncing upon a free-kick in the ninth minute and volleying home from close.
Umm Salal’s Yannick Sagbo was heavily marked but still managed to cause jitters in the rival camp, although it was Al Rayyan who took the lead, this time Tabata curling in one of his trademark free-kicks from 25 yards, confounding Umm Salal goalkeeper Yazan Naim.
The 31st-minute strike rattled Umm Salal but they never gave up and put pressure on the Al Rayyan defence.
And sure enough it was al-Mawas who was in the thick of the action, trapping a long pass and scoring from close in the 71st minute to clinch a draw.
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