(MENAFN- The Peninsula)
By Ayeni Olusegun | The Peninsula
Doha: Al Sadd sealed a record-extending 18th Amir Cup title in dramatic style at the magnificent Al Thumama Stadium beating rivals Al Rayyan 5-4 on penalties after a thrilling 90 minutes saw both teams tied at one goal apiece, with VAR stealing the spotlight yesterday.
Jung Woo-Young scored the winning penalty after Saad Al Dosari saved Shoja Khalilzadeh's spotkick, setting a grand finish at the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Stadium, which was inaugurated in a spectacular opening ceremony ahead of the title clash.
The South Korean's clean strike sent the scores of Al Sadd fans into a frenzy amidst a packed 40,000-seater venue.
The triumph also ensured Xavi Hernandez a seventh trophy and second Amir Cup title as a coach.
The Amir H H Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, handed the trophy to Al Sadd captain Hassan Al Haydos and vice-captain Al Dosari, with the FIFA President Gianni Infantino also in attendance.
Heading into the match, Al Sadd were on a run of six consecutive wins thanks to a flourishing attack. They soon put the Al Rayyan defence to task as Baghdad Bounedjah tested Fahad Younis just three minutes in after dazzling his way past his marker, but Younes easily gathered.
In the 10th minute, the in-form Bounedjah saw another effort skid narrowly wide off the mark after a lovely interchange between Akram Afif and Haydos released the Al Sadd captain down the right. His cross found Bounedjah, but the Algerian failed to convert.
In a rare attack, Yohan Boli's scuffed effort was easily held by Al Dosari, and Moufak Awwad blazed over the bar from two yards out for Al Rayyan after the Al Sadd defence was caught napping.
The mercurial Afif shot against the post in the 20th minute and almost put The Wolves ahead a few moments later. The 24-year-old Qatari international left the defender for dead, but his shot bounced off the crossbar with goalkeeper Younis well beaten.
However, against the run of play, Al Rayyan were awarded a controversial penalty just before the halftime. Al Dosari was penalised for a foul on Yohan Boli inside the box while attempting to clear the ball. The Lions' talisman Yacine Brahimi stepped up and made no mistake to give his side the lead just before halftime.
Al Sadd almost levelled up before the halftime whistle, but Haydos blazed over the bar after Santi Cazorla had set up The Wolves captain.
Al Sadd started the second half on the front foot with Afif pulling the strings for the Wolves, but he couldn't connect with Haydos' ball.
However, The Wolves finally pulled level after Mohammed Dame's clumsy challenge on Boualem Khoukhi was deemed worthy of a penalty after VAR consultation. Former Arsenal man Cazorla stepped up to the plate and sent his effort down the middle with Younes diving the wrong way.
It had been a quiet evening for Al Rayyan's marquee signing James Rodrigues, but the Colombian finally found his range just past the hour mark, shooting narrowly wide off the mark.
Despite Al Sadd's possession, Al Rayyan looked more likely to score, and Boli should have done better after holding off his marker, but the Ivorian's effort didn't trouble Al Dosari.
Both teams tried to find the winner as the game wore on, and Younes easily collected Bounedjah's header from close range before Rodrigues sent his freekick straight at Al Sheeb.
Al Sadd thought they had gotten the perfect chance to seal victory in stoppage time after the referee awarded a penalty for a foul on Afif by Khalilzadeh. After consultations with VAR, the referee waved off as both teams went on to penalties.
Al Sadd also won the 2020 Amir Cup title after defeating Al Arabi in the final.
Al Sadd's title wins
1974–75: Al Sadd 4-3 Al Ahli
1976–77: Al Sadd 1-0 Al Rayyan
1981–82: Al Sadd 2-1 Al Rayyan
1984–85: Al Sadd 2-1 Al Ahli
1985–86: Al Sadd 2-0 Al Arabi
1987–88: Al Sadd 4-3 Al Wakrah
1990–91: Al Sadd 1-0 Al Rayyan
1993–94: Al Sadd 3-2 Al Arabi
1999–2000: Al Sadd 2-0 Al Rayyan
2000–01: Al Sadd 3-2 Qatar SC
2002–03: Al Sadd 2-1 Al Ahli
2004–05: Al Sadd 0-0 Al Wakrah (5-4 pen)
2006–07: Al Sadd 0-0 Al Khor (5-4 pen)
2014: Al Sadd SC 3-0 Al Sailiya
2015: Al Sadd SC 2-1 El Jaish
2017: Al Sadd SC 2-1 Al Rayyan
2020: Al Sadd SC 2-1 Al Arabi
2021: Al Sadd SC 1-1 Al Rayyan (5-4 pen)
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