By Sports Reporter/Doha
Yacine Brahimi scored the all-important goal as Al Rayyan beat Al Sailiya 1-0 to keep their QNB Stars League title hopes alive yesterday. At the Al Janoub Stadium, captain Brahimi struck in the eighth minute as Rayyan moved on to 45 points, one less than leaders Al Duhail who will face champions Al Sadd tomorrow.
It was The Lions’ 13th victory, while Sailiya remained on 25 points following their ninth defeat and are almost out of contention for a top-four finish with only two rounds of action remaining. The result was a blow to Sailiya, who had finished third last season, their best-ever finish in the league, and thus played in the Qatar Cup and AFC Champions League play-off.
For Rayyan, it was a brilliant comeback after being held by Al Arabi goalless last week. Sailiya matched Rayyan ball for ball and even in ball possession each though the latter had more opportunities, especially in the first half.
However, the goal by Brahimi, one of the tournament top scorers, even before The Peregrines had settled down made all the difference. The Algerian placed the ball home past goalkeeper Amine Lecomte in no time after being assisted by youngster Ibrahim Masoud from the left. Rayyan’s were at it with a spate of attacks. Brahimi was unlucky with a free-kick in the 30th minute and, four minutes later, Lecomte first thwarted Sebastian Soria and then Franck Kom. And Abdulaziz Hatem sent a swerving shot wide of the target.
At the other end, Sailiya’s best chance fell to Abdulqadir Ilyas, but he failed to connect the ball sent through by Serigne Mbodji with a bicycle kick. After many exchanges in the second half, Rayyan’s Abdulrahman Al Harazi missed a chance in the 87th minute when he chipped the ball past Lecomte from the right only to see it go wide after he was set up by Brahimi with a through pass from the middle.
Karim Ansari almost equalised for Sailiya deep into stoppage time, but his angular shot went inches wide. The Iranian had earlier been thwarted by Rayyan goalkeeper Fahd Younis.
Wakrah dents Arabi’s
top four hopes
At the Al Sadd Stadium, Al Wakrah recorded a significant 2-1 victory over Al Arabi. Cristian Ceballos (71st-minute penalty) and Omar Ali (75th-minute) scored for Al Wakrah as The Blue Wave raised their tally to 24 points. It was their sixth victory as they are featuring in the top flight after a space of two seasons. The defeat, their seventh this season, further dented Al Arabi’s hopes of making it to the top four as they stayed on 25 points. Hamdi Harbaoui scored their goal in the 20th minute through a penalty.
It was a brilliant fightback by Wakrah, after being down by a goal for 70 minutes, against a 10-man Arabi side after The Dream Team’s Khalaf Saad was red-carded in the 12th minute for fouling Wakrah’s Jassim al-Jalabi.
Wakrah missed the services of their spearhead Mohamed Benyettou, one of the tournament top scorers who got injured during their game against Al Khor in Week 19. Despite the numerical disadvantage, Al Arabi surged ahead, Hamdi finding the target with a penalty awarded after Lucas Mendes fouled Al Arabi skipper Ahmed Fathy.
Omar sent his shot against the right upright in the 25th minute, while Arabi’s Marc Martinez skied a free-kick in first-half injury time. Wakrah, who started the second half with striker Meshaal Abdullah, had more of the ball (65 per cent) at the end. A sudden splurge in attacks saw them pump in two goals inside of four minutes.
First, Ceballos converted from the spot after Martinez brought down Ali Karami. Then, Omar, always lurking at the rival goal, came up with a diving header off a typical Murad Naji cross from the right. Arabi’s German forward Pierre-Michel Lasogga came off the bench in the 80th minute and he was unlucky with a header.
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