2020 Qatar Cup semifinals live up to billing


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As expected, the semifinals of 2020 Qatar Cup were full of excitement and lived up to their billing.

The top-four teams in the 2018-19 QNB Stars League fought it out. In the end, Al Duhail beat Al Sailiya 2-0 and Al Sadd defeated Al Rayyan 4-1 to qualify for the final, to be played at the Al Sadd Stadium on 17th January.

This is the second time in a row that reigning champions Al Duhail and QNB Stars League holders Al Sadd qualified for the Qatar Cup final. Al Duhail emerged as victorious by a 2-1 margin last time.

The two games saw seven goals being scored and either game did not go to penalty shoot-out. The tournament rule stipulates that in case of a tie at the ed of regular time, the game will be decided on penalty straightaway.

In the first match, it was mostly Al Duhail even though the first half ended goalless.

As the game grew, Al Sailiya bowed to the experience and expertise of Al Duhail players, who included their new recruits Mario Mandzukic of Croatia and North Korean forward Han Kwang-Song.

Mandzukic (59th minute) and substitute Almoez Ali (72nd-minute penalty) scored the goals for Al Duhail. Mandzukic thus opened his account in Qatar.

In the second semifinal, Al Sadd dominated possession though Al Rayyan scored first. The Wolves then staged a brilliant fightback in front of a large crowd.

Boulaem Khoukhi (38th minute), Akram Afif (42nd minute) and Salem Al Hajri (54th minute) scored for Al Sadd, who were also helped by an own goal by Al Rayyan defender Gabriel Mercado in the 68th minute.

Mowafak Awad had given Al Rayyan the lead in the 15th minute.

Al Sadd thus made amends for their 2-4 loss to Al Rayyan in the 2019-20 QNB Stars League’s first-leg Qatar Clasico.

Almoez and Akram won the man-of-the-match awards.