(MENAFN- The Peninsula) fawad hussain |
The Peninsula Online
Al Duhail replaced Al Arabi as QNB Stars League (QSL) leaders, beating Al Shamal 2-0 and then seeing the Dream Team tamed by full-strength Al Sadd in Qatar derby yesterday.
A second-half brace by Kenyan striker Michael Olunga at Abdullah Bin Khalifa Stadium handed the Red Knights crucial three points as they moved to 23 points, one clear of Al Arabi with both sides finishing 10 games each.
Younes Ali-coached Al Arabi suffered their second defeat of the season after Santi Cazorla and Hassan Al Haydos scored for champions Al Sadd in their 2-0 victory.
In other pulsating clash yesterday, Al Markhiyha staged a late fightback to snatch a point from Al Ahli with a 2-2 draw following a stoppage time equaliser.
Yesterday, Al Duhail struggled to break Al Shamal defence as goalkeeper Babacar Seck frustrated the Hernan Crespo's side in the first half before Olunga scored in 61st and 68th minutes to seal victory.
After a drive from captain Almoez Ali ricocheted off goalkeeper Seck, Olunga put his side ahead by availing the opportunity.
The striker then positioned himself in a fine position to put the ball in the left corner following Ferjani Sassi's flag-kick to make it 2-0.
At the Grand Hamad Stadium, Al Sadd fielding the likes of Akram Afif, Baghdad Bounedjah and Andrew Ayew were engaged in a thrilling contest against Al Arabi with both teams exchanging attacks from the start.
Al Sadd players celebrate as Santi Cazorla scored their first goal against Al Arabi, yesterday.
However, it was Cazorla who broke the deadlock from a spot kick in 66th minute after the pitch side monitor confirmed Aron Gunnarsson's handball inside the box. Al Haydos wrapped up the win for the Wolves with a hit from outside the box six minutes later.
After their fourth win of the season, the Wolves moved to fifth with 13 points as they look to make amends after a shaky start to the season.
“From this stage we will play every match to win,” Al Sadd coach Juan Manuel Lillo said after Qatar derby victory.
“The players remained calm which was needed to control the match. Now we will focus on our next match,” he added.
Meanwhile, Aymen Hussein made no mistake converting a 90+1 minute penalty for Al Markhiya after Driss Fettouhi cut Al Ahli's lead in 85th minute in day's second game at Abdullah Bin Khalifa Stadium.
The Brigadiers were leading from a 27th minute goal by Ali Qadry and Yousef Hani's own goal in 66th minute.
Al Ahli are fourth in the standings, one point ahead of Al Sadd while Al Markhiya moved to nine points.
Al Rayyan, Al Gharafa to lock horns today
Meanwhile, Al Rayyan are set to take on Al Gharafa with the match expected to produce thrilling action at Thani Bin Jassim Stadium today.
Though edged by Al Sadd in Qatar Clasico in their previous clash, Al Rayyan have returned as a better side post the World Cup break clinching their first win of the season. The Lions, however, are in desperate need of points to lift their standings as they currently stand on 11th with only four points.
“It will be a difficult match but we will strive for victory,” Al Rayyan coach Nicholas Cordova told reporters yesterday.
“I have great confidence in the team to provide good matches in the coming period,” he added.
After losing back-to-back games to Al Duhail and Qatar SC, Al Gharafa are looking to return to top four eyeing full points against Al Rayyan.
“We are required to be stronger mentally and physically because if we strive for the best, we have to improve our level more,” said Al Gharafa's Portuguese coach Pedro Martins.
“Al Rayyan have improved a lot compared to the first seven matches. Their attack is characterised by speed and they have experienced players in the middle. We have to be at our best against them,” he added.
Earlier, Al Wakrah will host bottom-placed Al Sailiya at Saoud Bin Abdulrahman Stadium.
The Blue Waves are third with 15 points from eight games having two postponed matches in hands while Al Sailiya are on four points.
“I know that they [Al Sailiya] are at the bottom of standings, but they have good players in all departments, therefore it will be a difficult match like all matches,” said Al Wakrah coach Marquez Lopez.
Al Sailiya coach Sami Trabelsi said his team must collect points in every game as the league has moved into a crucial stage.
“We are well aware that the next match is of utmost importance because the opponents are a good, organised and tactically strong team,” said Trabelsi.
“We need to improve at the psychological level and start reaping positive results so we can be psychologically free,” he added.
In other match, Qatar SC face Umm Salal will battle for points at Thani Bin Jassim Stadium.
Qatar SC, coached by Moroccan Youssef Safri, are placed fifth with 13 points while Wesam Rizik's Umm Salal are 10th with seven points.