QNB Stars League Round 8 Match Report — Al Arabi 2 Al Rayyan 4


Al Rayyan had it easy against hosts Al Arabi, winning 4-2, in their QNB Stars League Round 8 derby on Sunday. The Lions increased their tally to 21 points, but slipped to third place in the standings as Al Sadd, who defeated Umm Salal 4-1 in early kick-off, pipped them on goal difference.

Sebastian Soria (seventh minute), Rodrigo Tabata (32nd-min penalty), Abderrazaq Hamdallah (59th) and Gonzalo Viera (73rd) scored for Al Rayyan.

Defender Saad Natiq gave Al Arabi’s both replies in the 71st and 85th, both through identical headed goals. The scoreline was not a fair reflection of Al Rayyan’s domination in front of 2,336 spectators and it would have swelled had they converted more chances that came their way. 

In Croatian coach Luka Bonacic’s first match in charge, Al Arabi started without injured attacking midfielder Khalfan Ibrahim and they sorely missed him. To add to their woes, Syrian spearhead Mardik Mardikian went off the field injured halfway through the opening session and was replaced by Yousef Ahmed.

Bonacic had said before the game that he did not get time to make any tactical change in the team’s game, but his priority for this match was instilling confidence in the players. However, their confidence did not seem to have been boosted and they lost the plot after Al Rayyan scored a second time.

Play was mostly restricted to the Al Arabi area in the first half and Soria and Hamdallah took shots at will, with Tabata being the livewire in the midfield. Soria promptly gave Al Rayyan the advantage and Rodrigo Tabata doubled it by converting a penalty awarded after Al Arabi’s Gaser Zakaria tripped Soria inside the box.

Some heated arguments followed between Soria and Al Arabi skipper Ammar Jemal. At times, the hosts’ players struggled to physically match their opponents.

Al Arabi showed more alacrity after the break, but when the rivals upped the ante, their goalkeeper Muhannad Naim had a harrowing time. Hamdallah skied the ball twice in quick succession past the hour mark.

Ahmed Saleh, Hamad Ismail and Diego Jardel tried their bit, but that was just not enough against an Al Rayyan side which looked formidable.

For a change, Mohsine Moutaouali, who was regularly utilised by Al Rayyan coach Michael Laudrup, started the game. Such was the Dane’s confidence of winning the game that he pulled out Soria in the 72nd and Hamdallah seven minutes later.

In Round 9, it will be Al Rayyan vs Al Gharafa and Al Arabi vs Al Markhiya.