Al Rayyan ensured there were ‘no surprises’ as they thrashed minnows Mesaimeer 4-0 to ease into the quarter-finals of the Amir Cup yesterday.
New Ivorian recruit Yohan Boli struck once either side of the break, while Khalid Muftah and veteran Rodrigo Tabata also scored as The Lions completed dominated the match at the Abdulla bin Khalifa Stadium in Duhail.
Al Rayyan coach Diego Aguirre had said at his pre-match press conferences that he wanted no surprises in the match and his players ensured that indeed was the case.
Aguirre is at the helm at Al Rayyan for the second time in his coaching career and had been in charge when they won the Amir Cup for the sixth and last time in 2013.
Mesaimeer defended stoutly during the first 10 minutes of play but it was not long before they caved in to the sustained Al Rayyan pressure.
And sure enough it was Boli who provided the breakthrough for Al Rayyan firing home from close after a pass from Franck Kom in the 11th minute.
Boli, who played as a professional in France and lately Belgium before joining Al Rayyan recently, was playing only his second match in Qatar and has already made a tremendous impact.
Last week, he scored the only goal of the match as Al Rayyan defeated previously unbeaten Al Duhail their first defeat in the QNB Stars League to stay in the hunt for the title.
Yesterday, too, he was the main man for Al Rayyan, proving a constant menace for Mesaimeer.
Immediately after his first goal, he was a victim of a violent tackle from Mesaimeer’s Mohamed Faid, but escaped unhurt. Faid received a yellow card for his indiscretion.
Al Rayyan consolidated in the 37th minute through Khalid Muftah who punished Mesaimeer for playing too many risky passes near the goal area instead of clearing the ball.
Mesaimeer survived several scares in the second half but Boli’s clinical finish in the 82nd minute helped Al Rayyan bolster their score. Veteran Rodrigo Tabata then struck in stoppage time as Al Rayyan sealed their spot in the last-8 stage.
Earlier in a battle between QNB Stars League sides, Al Sailiya survived a late fightback from Umm Salal for a 2-1 victory and enter the quarter-finals.
At the Al Ahli stadium, Sailiya went ahead in the 41st minute after Umm Salal defender Ayoub Azi brought down striker Karim Ansarifard in the box, with the referee awarding the penalty after consulting the VAR. Mbark Boussoufa sent goalkeeper Sami Subait the wrong way as Sailiya went into half time with a one-goal cushion.
Six minutes into the second half, Sailiya doubled their lead after an unmarked Maher Yusuf headed into the net from the box, after a fine cross from Boussoufa. Yusuf had replaced injured Ansarifard before the start of the second half.
Umm Salal pulled a goal back in the 81st minute when Nasser al-Nasr slammed home into the empty net. While Umm Salal chased the equaliser, it was Sailiya who had the chance to put the game to bed but Mohamed Abu Sharara fluffed an easy opportunity to score. In the end it didn’t matter for Sailiya as Umm Salal failed to take the game into extra time.
The victory provided a much-needed relief for Sailiya’s Tunisian coach Sami Trablesi, who has been under pressure recently.
Sailiya haven’t been at their best in the QNB Stars League, having lost seven of their 14 matches to languish in seventh spot. They also suffered a heartbreaking loss to Iran’s Shahr Khodro in penalties in the AFC Champions League playoff match.
Al Rayyan’s Yohan Boli (second from left) is congratulated by his teammates after his first goal against Mesaimeer yesterday.