Match Report- Al Gharafa 1 Al Ahli 1
Honours even between Gharafa & Ahli
The opening fixture of the new, eagerly anticipated QNB Stars League season was hosted by Al Gharafa at the Thani Bin Jassim Stadium against Al Alhi who arrived under the guidance of new head coach, Joaquín Caparrós. This would’ve been a game that both teams came into believing that they were good enough for victory, but at the final whistle they had to settle for a draw.
With barely a minute on the clock Ahli got their season off to a flying start. Having won a corner straight from kick off, Ali Sadik sent in an out-swinging cross which was met by Colombian striker, Cristian Nazirit, who confidently powered a header into the back of the net.
Looking to double their advantage, Al Ahli had a goal disallowed on 13 minutes after some neat play. The ball was lofted over the Al Gharafa defence, flicked on by Nazarit before being poked home by Ali Qadri. Replays suggest he was marginally offside.
As the first half came to a close it was Al Gharafa in the ascendency as Al Ahli seemed to be content to play on the break and catch their opponents off guard with the brigadiers attack troubling the Gharafa defence.
With plenty of possession but no notable efforts on goal, Al Gharafa made some changes at half time which resulted in a more attacking display in the second half. A host of chances were narrowly wide of the mark including a mazy run by Al Gharafa’s Adel Ahmed who saw his effort shot was tipped onto the bar by Al Ahli’s goalkeeper before being cleared to safety.
On 70th minute Al Gharafa’s half-time substitute Luis Jimenez used his vision to send a wonderful reverse through ball into the area, cutting out two Al Ahl players in the process. The pass was met by the energetic Ilyas Mohamed who slotted home from close range to secure a well-deserved equaliser for Gharafa.
Several minutes later, Jiminez the opportunity to become match winner. After a a crafty interchange on the right hand side of the Al Ahli area, the ball was expertly cut back to the former Al Arabi man whose shot was driven just over the bar from close range.
The winner didn’t arrive from either in side in spite of some pressure late on. In the end Al Gharafa may feel they could’ve got more from the game but both sides will be happy to have a point on the board from the opening round of the QNB Stars League season.