By Sports Reporter Doha
Akram Afif and Baghdad Bounedjah scored in the first half as Al Sadd overcame an early setback to beat Umm Salal 2-1 in a keenly contested game in the QNB Stars League yesterday.
The ever-dangerous Yannick Sagbo gave Umm Salal a shock lead against the defending champions at the Al Janoub Stadium as the match began at a rapid pace with both teams on the attack.
But it was Umm Salal who broke through as Mahmoud al-Mawas dispossessed Salem al-Hajri as he was trying to shepherd the ball out of play, before laying off the ball to Sagbo from the byline and the Ivorian made no mistake with his effort
He nearly doubled the lead moments later with a half volley, but his effort flew marginally over the crossbar.
Al Sadd were not to be denied for long though and were back in the game in the 19th minute, thanks to a wonderful piece of play by Hassan al-Haydos. His exquisite chipped through ball over the defence, reminiscent of his coach Xavi Hernandez, was met by the run of Akram whose first-time shot left the goalkeeper with no chance.
Following the equaliser, The Wolves were on the ascendency and got their bonus after being awarded a penalty when Adil Rhaili brought down Bounedjah in the penalty area. The Al Sadd front man got back on his feet to coolly convert and put his side in front.
In a reverse of their first goal, Umm Salal came close to a second when Sagbo became the supplier from the byline, only to see al-Mawas’ shot well saved by Sl Sadd goalkeeper Saad al-Sheeb.
A goalless second half saw both teams continue to attack, with neither side looking to concede the match. Umm Salal had again started strongly and somehow Rhaili saw his close-range header from a corner drift frustratingly wide.
Sagbo later forced another fine save from al-Sheeb distance as they pressed for the equaliser. This approach often left them short at the back with Bounedjah in particular causing problems at the other end.
His header from al-Haydos’ cross was superbly saved by Yazan Naim against the odds. With the match all but finished, al-Haydos nearly secured a third with a shot powered just wide, but all in all, the third goal was not needed as Al Sadd completed a well-fought win.
Meanwhile, Al Sailiya pulled off a 1-0 win over Qatar SC, with Serigne Mbodji netting the all-important goal in the 89th minute.
The Peregrines have four points after their first victory. They had earlier drawn 1-1 with Al Khor and lost 0-3 to Al Ahli.
Al Sailiya have played one game less as their match against Al Sadd in Week 3 was postponed to 24th September due to the latter’s AFC Champions League second-leg quarter-final against Saudi Arabia’s Al Nassr in Doha on 16th September.
Qatar SC have yet to open their account, having lost 1-2 to Al Duhail, 0-2 to Al Wakrah and 1-3 to Al Gharafa earlier.
Al Sailiya, who finished a creditable third in last season’s QNB Stars League, were attacking mostly from the start. And it was Qatar SC goalkeeper Jassim al-Hail at the other end blocking shots when Boussoufa Mbark, Maher Yousef and Nadir Belhadj all made attempts at the goal.
Even as Al Sailiya had more of the ball and opportunities, Qatar SC’s Junior Kabananga missed a sitter towards the close of first half when he shot over a measured cross from Ahmed Moein.
This was a couple of minutes after Qatar SC’s Ali Awad skied a free-kick.
The script was same in the second half, with Al Sailiya trying more harder to make a breakthrough even though there were no worthwhile chances for both sides.
Qatar SC’s Uzbek striker Sardor Rashidov struggled without being fed up front. The Kings’ Elmehdi Barrahma received a red card following his foul on Al Sailiya captain Majdi Siddiq in the 85th minute.
As the game drifted towards a draw came the winner, with Mbodji heading in a cross from the left by Ahmed al-Menhali.
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