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Nov 26 - Dec 8, 2019
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Gharafa work their way past lacklustre Qatar SC

Othman Al Yahri’s double helps Cheetahs to their second win and a place behind leaders Al Arabi on the QSL table.
Al Gharafa's Othman Al Yahri (11) Celebrates With His Team Mates After Scoring Against Qatar Sc
Al Gharafa’s Othman Al Yahri (11) celebrates with his team-mates after scoring against Qatar SC. IQ Photo: Vinod Divakaran

Al Gharafa earned just rewards for their perseverance as they worked their way to a 3-1 win over Qatar Sports Club and moved to the second spot on the Qatar Stars League table on Saturday.

At the Jassim bin Hamad Stadium in Al Sadd, Othman Al Yahri netted an excellent brace to stand out for the Cheetahs, dashing Qatar’s hopes of salvaging their first point.

Gharafa were clearly the better side, but they seemed to lack ideas in the final third. Qatar, with their limited resources, held on to a 1-1 scoreline in the first half, but they cracked in the second to suffer their third straight loss.

It was Gharafa’s second win and they are on seven points, the same as Al Arabi. But the latter head the table by virtue of their better goal difference.

Al Gharafa's Othman Al Yahri (right) Celebrates With His Team Mate Sofiane Hanni After Scoring Against Qatar Sc
Al Gharafa’s Othman Al Yahri (right) celebrates with his team-mate Sofiane Hanni after scoring against Qatar SC. IQ Photo: Vinod Divakaran

Champions Al Sadd will play their third-round game only on September 24, after their AFC quarterfinal second leg against Saudi Arabia’s Al Nassr on Monday.

With Gharafa unable to find that incisive final pass, the teams were locked in a midfield tussle for the better part of the first half. It was slow going before Qatar savoured some joy, striking the first blow in the 32nd minute.

A long ball from Ahmed Moein found Sardor Rashidov on the left, but Gharafa goalkeeper Qasem Burhan made an ill-advised venture to tackle him. Rashidov easily beat Burhan and rolled the ball into an empty goal to give Qatar the lead.

It was a rare moment of joy for Qatar coach Carlos Alos, who was otherwise fuming and tearing his hair out from the sidelines for most part of the match.

Gharafa equalised five minutes from half-time when Othman set up the goal, cutting in from the left and rolling the ball for Adlane Guedioura in the middle. The Algerian’s push forward found Ahmed Alaaeldin and he beat Jassim Adel with a neat finish.

Al Gharafa's Almahdi Ali Mukhtar (right) And Qatar Sc Player Junior Kalonji Fight For The Ball
Al Gharafa’s Almahdi Ali Mukhtar (right) and Qatar SC player Junior Kalonji fight for the ball. IQ Photo: Vinod Divakaran

Gharafa seemed struggling to break through in the second half as Jassim rushed out to foil Hanni on a solo run. But a swift passing bout between Koo Ja-Cheol, Hanni and Alaaeldin split the Qatar defence in the 68th minute. Alaaeldin passed it to a better-positioned Othman on the left and he was precise with his finish to put the Cheetahs ahead.

Qatar had a chance to equalise, but Rashidov’s weak shot failed to threaten Burhan. Immediately, Gharafa punished them with Othman dribbling in from the left and beating Jassim with a beautiful shot. The 73rd-minute goal drained Qatar SC of all their morale.

Yet Rashidov did come up with a couple of attempts, but once he hit the post and then shot straight to Burhan.

In another match, two goals from Mohamed Benyettou helped Al Wakrah defeat Al Shahania and maintain their impressive show on return to the top division at the Al Janoub Stadium in Al Wakrah.

After a goalless first half, Benyettou struck in the 63rd and 80th minutes as Wakrah notched their second straight win, after losing their opening game to Al Sadd. It was Shahania’s third consecutive defeat and they stay rooted to the bottom of the standings.

Benyettou first struck from close range, cashing in on a pass from Cristian Cebellos on the left.

The second was a solo effort as he won the ball from Saad Hussein and dribbled up before beating goalkeeper Ebrahim Daryoush.