Rodriguez makes debut but Rayyan go down to Duhail; Sadd stay top
October 17 2021 11:30 PM
From right: Al Sadd's Santi Cazorla (best player), Baghdad Bounedjah (top scorer) and Xavi Hernandez
From right: Al Sadd's Santi Cazorla (best player), Baghdad Bounedjah (top scorer) and Xavi Hernandez (best coach) pose with their 2020-2021 season awards on Sunday.

By Sports Reporter

James Rodriguez had a disappointing debut for Al Rayyan as his new side went down to Al Duhail 0-3, while Al Sadd stayed on top of QNB Stars League after a thrilling 6-4 victory over hosts Al Gharafa on Sunday.
The Colombia, who joined from Premier League side Everton last month, finally made his first appearance for Rayyan after recovering from muscle injury. But the midfielder could not save Laurent Blanc’s men.
Duhail were clearly a better side, taking six shots on target. The Red Knights scored their first two goals through penalties with Edmilson Junior and Almoez Ali being the scorers in third and 40th minutes respectively. Michael Olunga sealed the win with a strike in 55th minute. Duhail are second on the table with 15 points having played a game less than leaders Al Sadd.
The reigning champions Al Sadd, who are were involved in a goal-fest against Al Gharafa, are on 18 points. Yesterday’s first match at the Al Gharafa Stadium saw flurry of goals with Baghdad Bounedjah celebrating his QFA’s top scorer award with goals in seventh and 51st minutes. Hassan al-Haydos (14th and 40th minutes) and Andrew Ayew (89th minute) also scored for Al Sadd, who also benefited from an own goal from Al Gharafa’s Saifeldeen Fadlalla in the 17th minute.
Al Gharafa also put up a spirited fight with Cheick Diabate (21st and 45th minutes), Saifeldeen Fadlalla (29th minute) and Ahmed Alaaeldin (57th minute) scoring for them.
Bounedjah, assisted by Rodrigo Tabata, scored his first goal clipping the ball over keeper Yousef Hassan. Al Sadd soon doubled their lead when al-Haydos– on the right flank – clipped in a cross for his forwards but his shot got deflected by marker Saeed El Hajj’s foot. The ball looped high above and dropped over the head of the Al Gharafa keeper and crashed into the net.
In 17th minute, al-Haydos was in the Al Gharafa box, but his cross for a team-mate was deflected into the goal by Al Gharafa’s Under-19 player Fadlalla for an own goal.
Al Gharafa then put an end to the Al Sadd goal glut as Diabate – after receiving a short cross inside the box – drilled the ball into the net from close range.
Close to the half-hour mark, the match witnessed the fifth goal when Fadlalla compensated for his lapse by slotting the ball into the Al Sadd net when Sofiane Hanni’s penalty kick was saved by keeper Meshaal Barsham.
Al Sadd jumped to a 4-2 lead after al-Haydos drilled the ball from the edge of the Al Gharafa box into the net following an assist from Akram Afif. Five minutes later, Diabate – after receiving a cross from Hanni close to the half-line – charged ahead solo. Following a long run, Diabate easily slotted the ball past the Al Sadd keeper.
An al-Haydos-Bounedjah 1-2 saw the Algerian striker score his second of the match as Al Sadd went 5-3 up before Al Gharafa’s Alaaeldin tapped the ball into the net from close range after a long cross by Fadlalla to make it 4-5 for his side. Ayew added to Al Sadd’s bulging tally when he scored from close range late into the game.
Earlier at Al Khor Stadium, the hosts staged a late fightback to hold Al Ahli to a 2-2 draw. Patrick Eze (53rd minute) and Abdulrahman al-Harazi (63rd minute) took Al Ahli ahead before Al Khor bounced back after goals from Rafael Vaz (82nd minute) and Ismail Haddad (88th minute).      

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