Al Sadd Clinch ESL Title In Style


(MENAFN- The Peninsula) Fawad Hussain |The Peninsula

Doha, Qatar: Al Sadd clinched the record-extending 17th Qatar Stars League – currently known as the Expo Stars League (ESL) – title after a 4-0 thumping of Al Shamal at Al Bayt Stadium yesterday.

The Wolves, who remained dominant throughout the season, scored two goals in each half to seize the title and were crowned champions receiving the coveted Falcon Shield with one match to spare.

They victory took their tally to 49 points, giving them an assailable lead over Al Rayyan and Al Gharafa, who registered victories yesterday and will battle for a second place in the final round on April 28, with both standing on 44 points.

Hassan Al Haydos gave Al Sadd the lead in the ninth minute, stealing a bad pass from Al Shamal defender to slot from near the penalty spot.

Gonzalo Plata struck in 26th minute with Al Shamal being reduced to 10 men five minutes before half-time following a red card to Omid Ebrahimi.

Qatar Football Association President Jassim bin Rashid Al Bueinain hands the Falcon Shield to Al Sadd's Akram Afif (left) and Hassan Al Haydos.

Al Shamal were further reduced when Fahad Waad was sent off in 73rd minute along with Al Sadd's Plata.

Striker Akram Afif – the leading scorer this season – then converted a penalty in 83rd minute for his 26th goal with Paulo Otavio wrapping up the memorable win in fifth minute of stoppage time.

It was Al Sadd's 15th victory from 21 games that include four draws and two defeats.

Al Rayyan stay second with big win

At the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium, Al Rayyan rallied to beat Al Ahli 4-1 and retained their second place on a better goal difference over Al Gharafa.

Naim Sliti put Al Ahli ahead in 11th minute with Shogo Taniguchi scoring the equaliser in 23rd minute. The Lions wreaked havoc late in the match with Roger Guedes converting a penalty in 85th minute followed by a goal from Rodrigo Moreno three minutes later. Achraf Bencharki wrapped up the win in 11th minute of stoppage time.

Al Rayyan coach Leonardo Jardim praised his side for a strong fightback in the match.

“It's an important victory despite of the fact that Al Sadd have secured the title,” Jardim said after the match.

“Our next match is against Al Sadd and this win will give us confidence against them. I want to congratulate Al Sadd on their title win.”

Al Ahli are placed 10th in the standings with 20 points, ahead of Al Markhiya and relegated Muaither.

In a thrilling match at Saoud Bin Abdulrahman Stadium, Al Gharafa defeated Al Wakrah 4-2 with Yacine Brahimi scoring a second-half brace.

Ferjani Sassi had handed the Cheetahs lead in 22nd minute but the Blue Waves went ahead through goals from Ayoub Asal (47th minute) and Mohamed Benyettou (53rd minute).

Brahimi spearheaded Al Gharafa fightback leveling the scores in 59th minute before regaining the lead for his side with a spot kick eight minutes later. Ahmed Al Ganehi sealed the victory in 73rd minute of the match.

Also yesterday, Umm Salal prevailed over defending champions Al Duhail 2-0, with Lucas Joao being their star with strikes in 48th and 90th minute at Thani Bin Jassim Stadium.

While Al Duhail stayed on fifth with 28 points, Umm Salal jumped to sixth as Al Arabi slipped one place following a shock 2-1 loss to Al Markhiya at Al Thumama Stadium yesterday.

Al Markhiya are now 11th with 17 points – four clear of Muaither, who slipped to bottom and were relegated following a 5-3 loss against Qatar SC at Grand Hamad Stadium.

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The Peninsula

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