(MENAFN- The Peninsula)
By Fawad Hussain I The Peninsula
Doha: Al Sadd overcame Al Rayyan's fightback to clinch a 4-2 victory in an absorbing Qatar Clasico at the Khalifa International Stadium last night.
With third victory on the trot, the defending champions joined Al Duhail on top of the QNB Stars League (QSL) standings with nine points. Earlier yesterday at the iconic venue, Al Duhail prevailed over Al Gharafa 3-1 for their third successive win. Al Wakrah also secured full points after defeating Al Khor 2-1.
Meanwhile, with passionate fans of both the top sides attending the Qatar Clasico, Xavi Hernandez-coached Al Sadd were clearly a better side, claiming a 3-0 lead within half-hour mark. Al Rayyan produced good display in patches but coach Laurent Blanc must be ruing mistakes in defence from his wards in the big match.
The Wolves took the lead early in fourth minute through captain Hassan Al Haydos before feared striker Baghdad Bounedjah and Andre Ayew made 3-0 with goals in 21st and 24th minutes. After Al Rayyan made a comeback following strikes from Hashim Ali (45+2), Abdelaziz Hatim (49th minute), Qatar star Akram Afif sealed a thumping win with a goal in the 58th minute.
Al Sadd entered the turf with an aggressive approach and were rewarded soon for their strategy with a smart play by Tarek Salman. The Qatari midfielder took advantage of the defence leaving too much space and found Al Haydos off a through pass, with the captain, who had just Al Rayyan glovesman Fahad Younis to beat made no mistake, chipping the ball on his right corner from near the penalty spot.
Al Rayyan attempted for an equaliser through Yohan Boli, whose header was punched away by rising Al Sadd keeper Meshaal Barsham in a 12th minute free kick. The Lions, in search of a goal, left too much space in their area and that's what Al Sadd exploited by firing two quick goals.
Akram Afif assisted Bounedjah, who dodged two defenders to double the lead with a flick on Younis' right. Ghanaian Ayew extended the lead by taking advantage of poor defending, firing a shot that took Younis' touch to land into the left corner.
Just before the half-time, an error by Barsham helped Al Rayyan cut the lead as the keeper misjudged a pass giving the ball to Hashim, who wasted no time in pulling one goal back with a hit from outside the circle.
Al Rayyan struck again soon after the break with a clinical Ali Malolah cross from right finding Hatim, who just needed a nudge from a close range to put the ball past Barsham.
But when The Lions started sensing a phenomenal comeback, Afif made it 4-2 with a left-footed kick after receiving a ball from Bounedjah inside the circle.
Al Rayyan's Khalid Muftah escaped punishment for stopping a raging Bounedjah near the circle as video replay showed it was a fair challenge.
Both teams exchanged attacks but Al Sadd ended up victorious by retaining their lead.
Earlier at the Khalifa International Stadium, Al Duhail stormed to their third straight win following a brace by Abdelrahman Mohammed, who scored in 54th and 67th minutes after Almoez Ali took them ahead with a 28th minute penalty.
Ahmed Alaaeldin, who converted a penalty in 59th minute, was the scorer for Al Gharafa.
Meanwhile, goals from Mohamed Benyettou (25'), Gelson Dala (45+3') handed Al Wakrah full points at Al Khor Stadium. The hosts got their consolation goal from Said Mohamed (90+3) in the stoppage time.
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