Qatar SC inflict another loss on lacklustre Al Sadd
Xavi Hernandez's men suffer a big setback in their title defence; Al Gharafa strike early to sink Umm Salal
Al Sadd stuttered again in their title chase in the Qatar Stars League as they crashed to a 0-3 defeat against Qatar Sports Club at the Al Gharafa Stadium on Saturday.
It was a totally insipid show by Xavi Hernandez’s men who never looked like a team defending their crown. It was their third defeat of the season, after losses against Al Rayyan and Duhail Sports Club, and left them with plenty of ground to cover if they are to get back on track.
With 15 points from eight matches, Sadd are in fourth position. They have two games on hand as well but the lack of quality and spark in their play was really a worry, with the Club World Cup looming ahead. The frontline looked lost for ideas and even when the chances came their way, they could not pounce.
Qatar took full advantage of the champions’ lacklustre play to notch their third straight victory. They defended en masse and counter-attacked with deadly efficiency. The Sadd defence has not been upto the mark whole season but on this day, they were even more lethargic and paid the price. Sardor Rashidov was the standout in the Qatar attack, his pace proving a bit too much for the Sadd defenders. The Uzbek striker netted two goals while Kayke Rodrigues added the other.
The Rodrigues-Rashidov combine gave an early warning to Sadd, with the former testing Saad Al Sheeb with a powerful shot in the fourth minute. Al Sheeb saved it but was helpless in the 10th minute when Rodrigues won the ball in the midfield and passed it to Rashidov to dribble up and fire home, with Tarik Salman unable to cut off the danger.
Sadd missed a golden opportunity to level scores in the 25th minute. Baghdad Bounedjah, moving up off a counter, was confronted by an advancing Qatar goalkeeper Jassim Al Hail and shot wide. A goal then for Sadd could have changed the course of the game but it was Qatar who struck again, in the 32nd minute.
With Sadd in search of the equaliser, Qatar’s Abdulaziz Ibrahim set up a break, releasing Rashidov. The forward had an easy time as he sprinted forward and found Rodrigues free to his right. The Brazilian coolly beat Al Sheeb to double Qatar’s lead.
Sadd was all desperation in the second half. Xavi rung in the changes, bringing in Jung Woo-Young for the ineffective Abduaziz Al Ansari to bolster the defence and pressing Pedro into the attack. Yaser Abubaker Essa also came into the picture, replacing Hamid Ismael but there was no change in Sadd’s fortunes. Bounedjah lacked sharpness to deal with the crosses promptly while Hassan Al Haydos was totally off colour, and was replaced by Hashim Abdulatif.
Qatar rubbed salt into the Sadd wounds with their third goal in the final minute. Rashidov was again the man of the moment, his sizzling left-footer from outside the penalty area on the left beating Al Sheeb to the near post. A goalkeeper of Al Sheeb’s class should have stopped it but on this day, nothing would go right for Sadd.
Qatar, with their fourth victory from ten matches, took their tally to 12, continuing their revival under coach Wesam Rizik. They are in ninth position and head to the break with their confidence enhanced after a poor start to the league. Sadd, meanwhile, have plenty of questions to answer before they return to action.
Meanwhile, Al Gharafa consolidated their third position as the teams head to the break, defeating Umm Salal 2-0 in the other match of the day.
Gharafa have 20 points from 10 rounds while Umm Salal stay 11th with five points.
Hector Morena opened the scoring for Gharafa in the 2nd minute while Sofiane Hanni netted the second off a penalty in the 25th.