Al Arabi rallied fiercely to hold reigning champions Al Sadd to a 1-1 draw in their QNB Stars League match at the Al Sadd Stadium yesterday.
The much-anticipated match, dubbed the Qatar Derby, pitted two teams with passionate fans against each other. And it lived up to its billing.
Al Arabi, coached by Icelander Heimir Hallgrimsson, put up a far improved performance than they did in their 1-6 loss to Al Sadd in the first leg of this season’s tournament, in a match deferred due to the latter’s commitment in the 2019 AFC Champions League.
Akram Afif gave Al Sadd the lead by scoring in the 29th minute. Pierre-Michel Lasogga drew parity for Al Arabi by converting from the penalty spot in the 88th minute.
Al Sadd dominated the ball and all departments of the game with 70 per cent possession precisely in both halves. The Wolves also created more chances on either side of the breather as they forced 13 corner kicks as against Al Arabi’s just one. However, The Dream Team succeeded in containing the rival attacks, whose frequency increased by several notches in the second session.
Al Sadd now have 32 points, seven adrift of leaders Al Duhail who beat Al Shahania 3-1 in the day’s earlier kick-off. Al Arabi moved to 21 points.
While Al Arabi earned a crucial point in their bid to finish among the top four and thus stand a chance for an AFC Champions League berth, Al Sadd dropped two valuable points in successive weeks. They were held 2-2 by Umm Salal in the previous week.
Al Sadd, who have won both titles so far on offer this season (Sheikh Jassim Cup and Qatar Cup), were without the injured trio of Hassan al-Haydous, Salem al-Hajri and Ali Asad, while Al Arabi had their top scorer Hamdi Harbaoui back in action from an injury although he took the field in the second half.
In the first half, Al Arabi’s Under-23 player Yousef Abdurizag hit the side netting and had a shot saved by Saad al-Dossari, which was a rebound after the Al Sadd goalkeeper first thwarted Mohamed Saad.
Baghdad Bounedjah came close and Jung Woo-Young had a free-kick saved by Mahmoud Abunada, who had yet another good game below the Al Arabi bar. Akram’s goal came off a familiar sight, with Bounedjah providing him with a through pass. The intensity increased in the second half as Al Sadd’s Marco Fabian too became dangerous. The penalty was awarded through VAR and Lasogga was bang on target.
Al Sadd pressed hard for a winner, but in vain.
Al Duhail 3 Al Shahania 1
Al Duhail overcame a battling Al Shahania side to record a 3-1 victory in the QNB Stars League at the Al Duhail Stadium yesterday. Al Duhail thus further enhanced their QNB Stars League credentials as they moved on to 39 points.
In contrast, Al Shahania stayed rooted to the bottom with nine points. The home side scored through Han Kwang-Song in the fourth minute, Karim Boudiaf (50th minute) and Paulo Edmilson (81st minute). Al Shahania had earlier equalised in the 36th minute through Ahmed Akaichi.
Within minutes of the opening, the game burst into life as The Red Knights took an early lead. Edmilson outwitted his marker in the penalty area before finding Han, who took one touch and drilled the ball into the corner. The lead was nearly doubled ten minutes later when Al Ahrak found Edmilson with a square pass, but the Brazilian hit the woodwork from close range.
Al Shahania had applied pressure of their own and were rewarded with a VAR reviewed spot-kick for a foul on Nigel de Jong, from which Ramin Rezaien could only strike the post.
The warning signs were there and Al Shahania finally equalised when De Jong’s cross was flicked on by Alvaro Perez, with Akaichi connecting sweetly with a volley to bring the scores level. A marginally-rattled Al Duhail came out for the second half with a renewed burst of energy. They were quickly back in front as Al Ahrak was once again the provider, with Boudiaf collecting his pass from the left and planting his shot inside the far post.
The league leaders were in full control by this point and were too strong for Al Shahania. They were able to settle the match late on as Assim Madibo’s perfectly-timed ball over the top of the defence was met by Edmilson, who cutely lobbed the keeper with the outside of his right foot to cap an impressive performance.
Al Rayyan 1 Al Ahli 0
Second-placed Al Rayyan defeated Al Ahli 1-0 in their QNB Stars League match at the Al Sadd Stadium yesterday.
Yacine Brahimi scored from the penalty spot in the 69th minute. The Algerian attacking midfielder took his personal tally to 11 goals. Al Rayyan moved to 35 points, while Al Ahli remained on 18 points. The first half failed to produce any worthwhile attempts.
Al Ahli’s Hernan Perez shot straight to goalkeeper Fahad Younis and Abel Mathias was off-target from close, while Al Rayyan’s Abdulaziz Hatem’s shot was saved by the rival defence for a corner. Captain Rodrigo Tabata took the resultant kick and Ahmed Abdelmaqsoud’s first-time booming shot off it was blocked by Al Ahli custodian Ivanildo Rodriguez.
Al Rayyan started the second session by substituting Mowafak Awad and in came Abdulrahman al-Harazi.
The winning goal came in the form of a penalty, awarded when Al Ahli’s Abdulrasheed Umaru fouled Khaled Muftah inside the box. And Brahimi was on target. Brahimi was replaced by striker Sebastian Soria in the 82nd minute in a bid to seal the game, but the scoreline remained the same.
It was Al Rayyan’s 10th victory, whereas Al Ahli suffered their eighth defeat. Al Rayyan had beaten Al Ahli 3-1 in the first leg of League.
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