By Sports Reporter/Doha
Al Duhail opened up a five-point advantage at the top after Almoez Ali struck a brace in the leaders’ 3-1 win over Al Arabi at the QNB Stars League yesterday.
In a heavyweight battle at the Al Arabi Stadium, Almoez scored early and late into the game (fourth minute and 90+4), while Paulo Edmilson added another in the 33rd minute as Duhail moved on to 33 points after 13 games. Hamdi Harbaoui converted a penalty in the 19th minute to give the only reply for Al Arabi, who stood on 18 points.
With second-placed Al Rayyan losing to Al Gharafa on Thursday, Duhail now have extended their lead to five points. Reigning champions Al Sadd, who take on Al Shahania today, are third with 24 points. Duhail are the only unbeaten side so far this season, with the Red Knights winning 10 of their matches, the most by any team.
Duhail went into the match without Portuguese coach Rui Faria, with whom they parted ways following their loss to Al Sadd by a 0-4 margin in the final of 2020 Qatar Cup last week. Caretaker coach Bruno Oliveira was in charge of the match as Duhail brushed off any concerns in the camp.
Al Arabi had their task cut out as they were up against the table toppers, but they fought tooth and nail before going down. After Duhail took an early lead when Almoez found the target from close with Sultan Al Breik doing the spadework from the left with a cross, Al Arabi were not to be bogged down before their home fans.
They equalised as Harbaoui sent Al Duhail goalkeeper Amine Lecomte the wrong way from the penalty spot after the kick was awarded when Mohamed Emad tripped Harbaoui himself. Edmilson, who replaced Yousef Msakni in the Al Duhail attack after 28 minutes, got into the scoring act by connecting a defence-splitting through pass by Almoez.
Al Arabi upped their ante in the second half, while Al Duhail strengthened their ranks by replacing Mohammed Emad with Mohamed Moosa in the defence and Assim Madibo with Luis Martin in the middle. Al Arabi were reduced to 10 men in the 78th minute when Fahad Ali was red-carded for a stud-up challenge on Moosa. Almoez then rounded off the tally at the stroke of final whistle as he fired into an open net. Al Duhail and Al Arabi had played out a 1-1 draw in the first leg.
Al-Hail penalty save denies Wakrah victory
In another match, Jassim al-Hail saved a penalty to earn Qatar SC a point in a goalless draw against Al Wakrah at the Qatar SC Stadium. With both sides pushing to advance up the league table, they had to settle for a point apiece in a match which promised a lot, but did not deliver.
Al Wakrah will feel the most aggrieved not to have walked away with three points as they enjoyed the lion’s share of attempts on target. They spurned a glorious double chance when neither Khalid Mazeed or Mohamed Benyettou were able to test the goalkeeper midway through the first half.
The greatest chance of the opening period fell to Qatar SC and drew one of the finest saves in the league this season. Ahmed Doozandeh decided to try his luck from distance and his rapid strike was tipped onto the post in spectacular fashion by Hassan Idriss to keep the scores level.
Not to be outdone by his opposite number, Al Hail became the hero in the second half as he denied Benyettou from the penalty spot following a VAR review. The Qatar SC shot-stopper dived low to his left to maintain parity in the match.
Minutes later, Benyttou showed off his creative flair with a wonderful flick which evaded the defence and set up Ismail Mardanli whose shot was straight at the keeper. Benyettou again attempted to break the deadlock late on, but could not get his header on target as the match drew to a close. The result means the two teams remained separated by one point in the standings, with Al Wakrah moving onto 16 and Qatar SC to 15.
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