Shahania snatch a point from fancied Rayyan
Lions suffer a setback in their title aspirations as they settle for 2-2 verdict against bottom-placed team.
Title-contenders Al Rayyan dropped two vital points as they were held to a 2-2 draw by bottom-placed Al Shahania in the Qatar Stars League on Thursday.
At the Al Duhail Stadium, Rayyan failed to break Shahania’s defensive web decisively while their own defence let them down in a less than convincing performance.
The result, which ended Rayyan’s streak of six straight wins, ensured they will remain in second position when the league takes a long break after the tenth round.
Diego Aguirre’s men are in second position on 22 points while Duhail Sports Club, the league leaders with 23 points, will get a chance to widen their advantage when they play Al Khor on Friday.
Shahania, as is to be expected from a lower-ranked side, adopted a defensive approach to frustrate Rayyan for long periods. Without a win and faced with the threat of relegation, their tactics were understandable. Jose Murcia’s men, however, were not averse to counterattacks, keeping Rayyan on their toes in the second half.
A ninth-minute lead for Shahania came as a surprise. Kesse Amangoua paved the way to the goal, dribbling down the right flank and squaring it for Ali Fereydoun in the middle. Fereydoun passed it to a better-placed Saoud Farhan, who bulged the net with a firm shot.
Rayyan completely dominated possession from then on in the first half, as they went in search of the equaliser. Yacine Brahimi was their go-to man but he was tightly policed and could not get a clear view of the goal on many occasions.
The Lions did find the net in the 36th minute, with Franck Kom heading in an Abedelaziz Hatem free-kick but referee Abdulrahman Al Marri ruled it offside after consulting VAR.
- Al Rayyan 2 (Abdulaziz Hatem 54th, Sebastian Soria 60th) drew with Al Shahania 2 (S Farhan 9th, R Rezaeian 68th).
- Al Sailiya 2 (Meshaal Al Shammari 57th, Mbark Boussoufa 80th) bt Al Arabi 1 (Pierre Lasogga 45th).
Rayyan pressed hard at the start of the second half, forcing three successive corners. They drew level nine minutes into the session when Hatem, gaining possession off a throw-in on the right, shielded the ball superbly and drilled it between the defenders to beat Shahania goalkeeper Mohammed Al Bakri.
Normal service seemed to have been restored when Rayyan wrested the lead in the 60th minute, with Sebastian Soria tapping in a deflection off a cross from Mowafak Awad on the right.
Shahania, however, refused to roll over. They continued to defend with grit while also creating some threatening moves. Rayyan were then caught completely off guard as Ali Fereydoun served up a swinging cross from the left in the 68th minute for Ramin Rezaeian to head home the equaliser.
Rayyan still had time on the clock to go for the winner but they were a subdued lot by then while Shahania looked more threatening. Shahania almost got the third goal in the 84th minute with Amangoua heading in another Fereydoun cross but VAR ruled it offside.
A goal at that point would have been the clincher but Shahania still had the satisfaction of stealing a point from a top side while Rayyan go home, pondering what might have been.
In the second match of the day, Al Sailiya surprised Al Arabi with a strong comeback show, winning 2-1 at the Al Arabi Stadium.
Arabi took the lead through Pierre Lasogga in the 45th minute. Sailiya hit back in the second half, with goals from Meshaal Al Shammari in the 57th minute and Mbark Boussoufa in the 80th.
Sailiya were reduced to ten men in the 84th minute, with Bilel Saidani receiving the red card for a rough challenge. But that hardly made a difference in the end.
Arabi, who have stumbled after a super start to the league, are fifth with 14 points after suffering their third defeat. They have won just one of their last five matches. Sailiya also have 14 points but are placed a rung lower thanks to their inferior goal difference.