(MENAFN- The Peninsula) Fawad Hussain |
As Qatar marks the 100-day countdown to the FIFA World Cup 2022, the magnificent Lusail Stadium staged its first official match, with Al Arabi edging Al Rayyan 2-1 in a pulsating QNB Stars League (QSL) clash under lights last night.
It was a fitting debut for the Lusail Stadium - Qatar's biggest stadium and the venue for this year's FIFA World Cup final – as country's most famous football clubs with huge fan bases squared off for points.
Hours before the kick off, thousands of fans started flocking to catch first live action at the 80,000-capacity Lusail Stadium, which will host matches during every stage of the World Cup starting with the Group C clash between Argentina and Saudi Arabia on November 22.
The official inauguration ceremony of the venue will be held later.
A general view inside the Lusail Stadium during the match.
All the tickets were sold out as organisers issued over 20,000 tickets for the game dubbed a test event.
Al Arabi fans created an electric atmosphere giving a glimpse of a World Cup experience in advance when Youssef Msakni lobbed the ball over goalkeeper and a defender to put Al Arabi ahead in the 12th minute after receiving a clever ball from Mehrdad Mohammdi.
Earlier, Al Rayyan had Yohan Boli's goal in the 11th minute disallowed by VAR for a foul in the buildup.
The Dream Team doubled their lead in the 64th with Mohammdi scoring off a penalty kick, which was awarded after Omar Jehad's hit struck Al Rayyan's Yaser Hamed's hand inside the box.
Mehrdad Mohammadi prepares to shoot from the penalty spot to score Al Arabi's goal. Pictures: Abdul Basit
Boli brought the match back to life by reducing the lead in the 78th minute, volleying the ball in from a Mekki Mohsen cross.
Al Rayyan were unable to find the equaliser as Younes Ali-coached Al Arabi walked away with a memorable victory at the iconic venue.
“The atmosphere was great in this superb World Cup stadium and I am very happy to win an important match at this venue,” Al Arabi coach Younes Ali said after the match.
“We were very good in the first half while our performance declined in the second half but the important thing is that we managed to win against a tough side,” he added.
Fans relished every moment of the game and described the experience as memorable.
Spectators during the match between Al Arabi and Al Rayyan.
“I am very lucky to get a chance to attend this match at the Lusail Stadium where the FIFA World Cup winning side will lift the trophy on December 18,” Karim Ahmed, an Al Arabi fan told The Peninsula.
“It's a magnificent stadium and one of my favourite venues out of the eight World Cup stadiums. I am hoping to attend World Cup matches here,” he added.
Lusail Stadium will also stage the Lusail Super Cup on September 9 between the Saudi Pro League champions and Egyptian Premier League winners.
The stadium's design is inspired by the interplay of light and shadow that characterises the fanar lantern.
Its shape and golden façade echo the intricate decorative motifs on bowls, vessels and other art pieces found across the Arab and Islamic world during the rise of civilisation in the region.
Al Ahli hold Al Duhail
Meanwhile, Al Ahli held Al Duhail to a thrilling 1-1 draw in yesterday's first match at the Ahmed bin Ali Stadium.
Hussein Kanaani salvaged a point for Al Ahli with a penalty strike in the 89th minute, ten minutes after substitute Nasser Al Yazidi scored for Al Duhail in the 79th minute.
Al Duhail, who lost to Al Wakrah in their opening match of the season, remained winless while Al Ahli stayed unbeaten with a win and a draw.
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