By Sports Reporter/Doha
Al Duhail opened a four-point advantage at the top of the QNB Stars League table after Han Kwang-Song’s strike gave them a 1-0 win over gutsy Al Wakrah at the Al Duhail Stadium yesterday.
Meanwhile, reigning champions Al Sadd fell five points behind Duhail after they were held to a 2-2 draw by Umm Salal. In fact, Sadd were lucky to avoid defeat after trailing by two goals at the Al Gharafa Stadium.
Coming into the match, Duhail were clear favourites for the victory, but were made to work hard by a resolute Al Wakrah, who are looking to create distance between themselves and those at the bottom of the league.
The first half was largely in Al Duhail’s favour. However, they were unable to break the deadlock. Mario Mandzukic was first to be denied, with the Croat seeing a trademark header saved low to the goalkeeper’s left. Han should have done better when he broke into the penalty area, but he dragged his shot fractionally wide with a clear sight of goal.
A half-time team talk was enough for the hosts as they quickly came out of the traps and scored what turned out to be the game’s winning goal in the 48th minute. A patient build-up sufficed as Han was played in on goal, turned his marker and fired inside the near post beyond a helpless Hassan Idriss.
Meanwhile, Umm Salal were in contention for an unlikely win after Ayoub Azizi scored in the 24th minute, with Mahmoud al-Mawas adding another in the 33rd minute. But Al Sadd came back through Marco Fabian in the 48th minute and Nam Tae-Hee in the 59th to secure a point. Umm Salal took a surprise lead after winning a corner on the left-hand side, Walid Meslob’s cross was drifted in and Azizi rose horizontally to fiercely strike his header into the net. Moments later Umm Salal doubled their lead after a strike from outside the box was only partially saved by Saad al-Dossari and al-Mawas pounced on the rebound to give his side a 2-0 lead at the break.
Al Sadd pulled a goal back when Fabian struck a powerful, swerving shot from 25 yards which found the back of the net.
Al Sadd’s experience in these situations started to show and it was not long before they found an equaliser. Abdelkarim found Nam just inside the box, with the South Korean turning his marker before curling a wonderful shot into the far post to level the match.
Al Sadd thought they had won it deep into injury time, but Bounedjah’s excellent header crashed off the cross bar and agonisingly away from goal to see both teams settle for a point.
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