QNB Stars League Week 19 — Al Duhail 4 Al Sadd 3
Al Duhail took a major step closer to the QNB Stars League title with a thrilling 4-3 win over strong title contenders Al Sadd in Week 19 on Thursday.
Ismail Mohammed (37th minute), captain Youssef Msakny (41st and 87th), and Youssef El Arabi (90+3) scored for Al Duhail, while Jugurtha Hamroun (11th) and Baghdad Bounedjah (71st and 80th) found the target for Al Sadd.
Al Duhail maintained their status of being the only unbeaten side in this season’s QNB Stars League and widened their points tally to five points than second-placed Al Sadd.
It was also The Red Knights’ 16th victory, while The Wolves stayed on 46 points with 15 wins.
The match was widely billed as the one, where the winners might go on to become the eventual champions with only three more matches remaining. Al Duhail could even afford to lose and still have their chances.
Instead, Djamel Belmadi’s men underlined their status of being the best side around and notched up the winning goal with the last kick of the game. That really showed how entertaining and electrifying the encounter was.
El Arabi continued to be the top scorer with 23 goals, followed by Msakny on 21. Bounedjah took his tally to 14 goals and Hamroun 11.
The match was fast-paced and evenly-fought, and Al Duhail had a slight edge in ball possession (53 per cent). Al Sadd took the lead and waged a spirited battle. They scored first and even took a 3-2 lead with 10 minutes left to be played only to succumb to the might and superiority of Al Duhail.
After Algerian attacking midfielder Hamroun took Al Sadd ahead, Ismail continued his good form and drew parity for Al Duhail.
Msakny then ensured The Red Knights went into the half-time break with a 2-1 lead.
Al Sadd were without injured defender Morteza Mohammed and forward Hassan Al Haydous, though the latter came off the bench around the 80th minute.
Then came the brilliance of Bounedjah, who has been in devastating form of late. However, the hosts were not to be overawed as they equalised through Tunisian attacking midfielder Msakny and then found the winner right at the death through El Arabi’s solo effort, capitalising on a loose ball that resulted from a counter-attack.
Al Sadd may rue the sending-off of right-back Hamed Ismail, who received a second yellow card for a foul on Nam Tae-Hee, with nine minutes remaining.