Gritty Al Arabi fight back to hold Duhail SC
Arabi force draw on Duhail while Al Wakrah inflict another defeat on Qatar Sports Club.
Duhail Sports Club were forced to settle for a 1-1 draw by a determined Al Arabi while Al Wakrah notched their first win in the top division in the second round of the Qatar Stars League on Thursday.
At the Al Janoub Stadium in Al Wakrah, Duhail enjoyed plenty of possession and had chances too in the first half, but could not get past the defensive web weaved by Al Arabi.
Wakrah, meanwhile, capitalised on Qatar Sports Club’s errors to post a 2-0 win, at the Jassim bin Hamad Stadium in Al Sadd.
Al Arabi had defeated Al Ahli 3-1 in the first round and it was another encouraging performance from them against the Emir Cup champions. They showed plenty of gumption to come back into the contest after Duhail seemed to have stamped their authority pretty early.
When Rui Faria’s men took the lead in the seventh minute, it seemed a one-sided contest would unfold. A lovely interchange of passes between Almoez Ali and Youssef Msakni paved the way for the goal. Msakni played the ball to Almoez and darted into the vacant space to receive it back before chipping it cleverly past Gregory Gomis in the Arabi goal.
Hundreds of Arabi supporters in the vast stadium didn’t have much to cheer about for long as Duhail kept possession thereafter, stroked the ball around with ease and pierced the rival defence. Their unhurried ways suggested confidence was back into their play after a tough first-round win against Qatar SC.
Midfielder Ali Hassan thought he had doubled the lead when he cashed in on a defensive error and shot goalward, only to see Musab Mohammed clear it inches from the goal.
Edmilson found the mark a few minutes later, but referee suspected a handball and VAR confirmed it. Gomis then frustrated Duhail with a smart save after Almoez fired in a shot off a rebound.
Surviving these moments, Arabi, quietly, worked their way back nearing half-time. The crosses from the flanks that had proved so effective in their win over Al Ahli was largely absent, but they wound a way through the middle to cut open the defence. Hamdi Harbaoui’s back-volley and Mohammed Salah’s long-ranger were off target, but Arabi were level through a beautiful, crisp shot by Aron Gunnarson in the 40thminute.
Harbaoui put Martinez Muniesa in possession near the corner flag on the right and the player pulled it back to Gunnarson who fired the ball in from just inside the penalty area.
There was a spring in the Arabi feet after the equaliser and they felt they had forged ahead soon after half-time, but Pierre Lasogga’s strike with a header was ruled out by referee Mohammed Al Shammari for a foul.
Duhail then enjoyed lion’s share of the possession, but with Arabi pulling the men back, the Red Knights could not break in. The frustration was apparent when Faria received a yellow card from the referee for his protests from outside the technical area.
Duhail pressed hard for a late goal, as they did in the first game, but this time, there was no last-minute heroics forthcoming. They are second now on the table behind Arabi on goal difference, though both have four points.
Qatar SC lose again
In the first match, Al Wakrah inflicted their second defeat on Qatar. Alejandro Jimena netted an own goal in the 39thminute to peg back Qatar. They then slipped further in the 69thminute when substitute Ismail Mahmoud doubled Wakrah’s lead.
Wakrah, promoted from second division, thus earned their first points. They had lost their opening match 1-4 to Al Sadd. Qatar SC had lost their first match to Duhail 1-2.