By Sports Reporter/Doha
Al Duhail restored their four-point advantage over Al Rayyan at the top after a 2-0 win over Al Gharafa in the QNB Stars League at the Jassim bin Hamad Stadium Sunday.
The league leaders had dropped two points in their first game since resumption of the league last week, when they were held to a 1-1 draw by Umm Salal. But Sunday, Duhail were back in business as goals from Mohamed Muntari (fourth minute) and substitute Paulo Edmilson (80th minute) ensured they stayed on course for the title.
With three matches remaining, the Red Knights need to win two to clinch the title. One of those matches is against defending champions Al Sadd. Rayyan’s draw against Al Arabi on Saturday could prove costly for the Lions.
Al Gharafa, who had beaten Al Arabi 1-0 last week, could not repeat that performance and had to play second fiddle to Al Duhail, who had more of the ball. The Cheetahs remained on 31 points, but retained their fourth position in standings.
Defender Sultan al-Breik had a role in Al Duhail’s both goals as he provided the assists with measured crosses from the left. Muntari was on target as he sent home a rebound after Almoez Ali’s shot came off the rival defence, with Karim Boudiaf setting the stage with a chested-down cross from al-Breik.
Gharafa struck back through Jonathan Kodjia, their hero in victory over Al Arabi, but he sent his shot wide. Duhail’s Asim Madibo and Almoez tested Gharafa custodian Qasim Burhan, while Sofiane Hanni and Ahmed Alaaeldin too joined Kodjia in the rival attack.
One such move saw Duhail defender Mehdi Benatia beat Alaaeldin to the ball in a one-on-one situation. Duhail effected four substitutions in the second half and the first among them, Edmilson replacing Almoez, brought them result as the former, after a darting run along the right, doubled their lead by volleying home al-Breik’s cross from the left.
Duhail’s Han Kwang-Song then headed the ball against the right post off a free-kick from Ali Afif, both being substitutes. Gharafa made desperate attempts at the goal and Ahmed al-Janehi was unlucky not to have scored as his missile shot in stoppage time beat goalkeeper Mohammed Al Bakri, but the ball hit the post before going out. Muad Hassan then skied the ball to add to Al Gharafa’s woes.
Borges’ strike secures point for Al Khor against Wakrah
In the day’s earlier match, Al Khor and Al Wakrah played out a 1-1 draw at the Al Janoub Stadium Sunday. Mohamed Benyettou put Al Wakrah ahead in the 17th minute, while Lucca Borges pulled Al Khor level in the 67th minute. Al Khor and Al Wakrah now have 15 and 21 points respectively. Al Khor were fighting to avoid relegation, while Al Wakrah, playing in the top flight after a gap of two seasons, were looking to improve their position in the league.
It was Al Wakrah’s second successive draw, following their goalless result against Al Sailiya in Week 18 when the QNB Stars League resumed after a long break last weekend. Al Khor had lost 1-2 to reigning champions Al Sadd in the previous round. Al Wakrah and Al Khor were locked in a goalless draw in their first-leg match.
Benyettou took Al Wakrah ahead by slamming in a bicycle kick after Ahmed Sohail set the stage for it. Stung by the deficit, Al Khor created a few worthwhile moves. Helal Mohamed’s free-kick was well-saved by Al Wakrah goalkeeper Saoud al-Khater, Ibrahim Amada sent his shot wide and Tiago Bezerra headed a free-kick just over the bar in stoppage time.
Changing ends, Al Wakrah defender Lucas Mendes headed over in the 50th minute. Cristian Ceballos too had a good run among the Al Wakrah ranks. Borges helped Al Khor draw parity with a gem of a goal as he volleyed in the ball after being assisted by Helal and Amada, in that order, from the left.
After Ahmed Hammoudan and Borges created danger in the rival goal in the 79th minute, Al Wakrah’s Omar Ali had his long-range shot brilliantly parried by goalkeeper Baba Djibril. Soon, Saoud just about managed to collect Borges’ free-kick and the stalemate continued.
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