Gritty Al Rayyan fight back to hold Duhail SC
Midfielder Franck Kom nets a brilliant goal to deny last year's runners-up full points.
For the second successive game, Duhail Sports Club failed to make their advantage count and settled for a 1-1 draw, this time Al Rayyan coming their way in the Qatar Stars League.
At the Al Janoub Stadium in Wakrah, Duhail took the lead in the 67th minute through Ahmed Yasser, but Rayyan answered with a superb strike by Franck Kom in the 76th minute. It was a disappointing result for Duhail, who had started the league with a narrow win over Qatar Sports Club before being held 1-1 by Al Arabi in the second round.
After three rounds the former champions are in the sixth place now, not a spot they would have liked to be. For Rayyan, the result, given their limitations, was not a bad one, but they too would have liked to record a victory against their name before round four. As it stands, Rayyan have three points, having drawn all their games so far.
The match was bereft of any exciting moments in the first half, barring Duhail’s Ali Afif forcing a good save from Rayyan goalkeeper Fahad Younis Baker.
Duhail controlled the play but with Youssef Msakni absent and Mohanad Ali struggling, their attack lacked teeth.
Mohanad, yet to score a goal after arriving from Iraq at the start of the season, could have broken the deadlock five minutes into the second session after he was put through by Edmilson. But the young forward was easily dispossessed by the defenders. A few minutes later, he suffered a leg injury and had to be substituted, leaving the fans exasperated once again.
Duhail’s moment finally came when Ali Afif floated in a cross from the right and Yasser enjoyed a free header in the middle. It could have been 2-0 for Duhail soon after, but Fahad produced another smart save to deny Almoez Ali.
Rayyan, toiling hard through Yacine Brahmi on the left, gave their fans something to cheer about with a peach of an equaliser in the 76th minute.
Abdelaziz Hatem’s shot from just inside the box on the left was blocked by Duhail goalkeeper Lecomte Claude Amin and the ball rolled to Kom on the edge of the penalty area. And the Cameroonian midfielder unleashed a curling shot with the outside of his right foot, powering the ball to the far post to trigger celebrations among Rayyan’s ardent supporters.
As minutes ticked by, there was more urgency in the Duhail frontline, but the Rayyan central defence stood firm to cut off the crosses ruthlessly and keep the scoreline at 1-1.
Duhail coach Rui Faria was philosophical about the result.
“Honestly not much to say. I think we controlled the game and created possibilities to score. We deserved more, but this is football. This is our reality, this is what we’ve, one point,” Faria said.
His counterpart Diego Aguirre seemed pleased.
“We played a good game against a strong team. Rayyan are improving game by game,” said Aguierre.
Meanwhile, the Rayyan coach denied any knowledge of striker Mario Mandzukic joining his team as suggested by media reports from Europe, mainly in Italy where the Croatian is currently playing with Juventus.
“I don’t know, we need a striker, but I don’t want to comment on specific players,” he said.