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Nov 26 - Dec 8, 2019
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Duhail strike form in second half to outwit Gharafa

Red Knights on top of the table with 2-1 victory; champions Al Sadd back in action with win over Al Ahli.
Adlane Guedioura Of Al Gharafa (left) And Youssef Msakni Of Duhail Sc Vie For The Ball During Their Qsl Game
Adlane Guedioura of Al Gharafa (left) and Youssef Msakni of Duhail SC vie for the ball during their QSL game on Saturday. Photo: QSL Media

Duhail Sports Club maintained their unbeaten run with a 2-1 verdict against Al Gharafa to return to the top of the Qatar Stars League table on Saturday.

Al Rayyan had displaced Duhail by winning their eighth-round game against Al Arabi on Friday but Duhail responded with a win built on sound tactics at their home base. With 20 points, they hold a two-point advantage over Rayyan, with both the teams yet to taste defeat.

Earlier in the day, defending champions Al Sadd returned to the league after their Asian Champions League engagements, posting a 2-1 win over Al Ahli. The Wolves are third with 15 points, followed by Gharafa on 14 but the former have two matches on hand.

Gharafa were lulled into a false sense of security in the first half when Duhail lacked bite up front. Rui Faria’s men seemed to survive only because of some good defending but they looked a different team in the second half, dismantling the Gharafa defence with a clutch of fast and furious attacks.

Gharafa were the superior team in a dull first half but they could not make it apparent in the scoreline. Duhail seemed clueless in the attacking third and soon adopted a negative approach but were a transformed lot post the break.

The induction of Youssef Msakni pepped up their attacks and in a ten-minute spell at the start of the second half, they had chances to score at least three goals, with Paulo Edmilson also coming to the fore. Soon after resumption, Msakni hit the post off an Almoez Ali pass and Ali Afif fired the rebound over the bar.

Gharafa goalkeeper Qasem Burhan smartly saved shots from Muhammed Muntari and Edmilson at quick intervals before denying Edmilson with another brilliant save off a Muntari pass.

Almost against the run of play, Gharafa went ahead, with Sofiane Hanni beautifully driving in a long-ranger in the 60th minute.

Duhail recovered quickly and drew level six minutes later. Edmilson triggered the move, rolling the ball to Ismail Mohammed on the right. The substitute advanced and then sent in a cross that was connected with a flourish by Muntari in the middle.

Gharafa’s game steadily went downhill and Duhail deservedly netted the second goal in the 88th minute. Ahmed Abelazeez’s clever lob caught Gharafa’s defence off-guard and Edmilson, running forward, trapped it neatly and placed it past Burhan.

With no enterprise, ideas and energy left in the tank, there was no way back for Gharafa from then on while Duhail fans celebrated, their team having notched their fifth win in a row.

In the early kick-off at the Al Ahli Stadium, Baghdad Bounedjah netted both the goals for Sadd, in the 23rd and 32nd minutes, the second goal coming off a penalty. Abel Mathias scored for Al Ahli in the 48th minute.