Qatar Cup 2021 semifinal - Al Duhail 2 Al Gharafa 1
Al Duhail defeated Al Gharafa 2-1 in a thrilling semifinal of the 2021 Qatar Cup at the Al Duhail Stadium on Thursday.
The Red Knights will meet reigning champions Al Sadd in the final on 26th February, also at the Al Duhail Stadium. The Wolves beat Al Rayyan 1-0 in the first semifinal played earlier on Thursday.
Othman Al Yahri grabbed the lead for Al Gharafa in the 20th minute with a shot that went in off the foot of Al Duhail’s Ali Karimi. It was neutralised by Karimi who made amends in the 36th minute as the score was level 1-1 at half-time. Sultan Al Brake scored the winner for Al Duhail in the 72nd minute.
It was a fast start to the semifinal and Al Gharafa produced a perfect chance in the fourth minute. Al Yahri set up an unmarked Tameem Al Muhaza with a fine cross, but the latter, who was in a good position near the penalty area, failed to score. First, his flick was cleared by Almoez Ali and he hit the rebound off the target.
A few minutes later, Al Gharafa’s Homam Al Ameen struck a dangerous left-footed kick from over 20 yards outside the box, just missing the target with goalkeeper Salah Zakaria flying on his left.
Al Gharafa looked a better side in the first quarter of an hour as Al Duhail were confined to defending on their home turf.
Al Gharafa went ahead when Karimi, who was trying to block an attempt from Al Yahri, deflected the ball inside the cage, with Zakaria having no chance to stop the ball from sailing in his right corner.
The deficit prompted the QNB Stars League holders to search for an equaliser and Karimi rectified his mistake 17 minutes later by levelling the score. The Iranian smashed a header from close range by Eduardo Rodrigues’s (Dudu) free-kick to bring his side back in the game.
Three minutes before half-time, Kenyan striker Michael Olunga fired a shot from outside the box and Yousef made a diving save.
The eventful first half was evenly poised as Al Duhail enjoyed 62 per cent ball possession, with Al Gharafa launching more attacks (four shots on target from eight attempts).
After a pacy start to the final session, Al Duhail created more chances with threatening moves from Olunga and Karimi. Five minutes before the hour-mark, Al Gharafa goalkeeper Yousef Hassan made an astonishing save from a low free-kick from Olunga to keep the score intact.
However, a fiery display of football in the second half paid dividend when Al Brake took Al Duhail ahead after storming into the box from left flank, following a quick throw from near the box. The 24-year-old unleashed a powerful shot on the target, giving no chance to the goalkeeper this time.
Al Gharafa then made a few attacks, but were unable to draw level.