Qatar Cup 2021 semifinal - Al Rayyan 0 Al Sadd 1


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Reigning champions Al Sadd beat Al Rayyan 1-0 to reach the final of 2021 Qatar Cup.

Santi Cazorla scored the only goal of the feisty semifinal contest by converting a penalty kick in the 84th minute at the Al Duhail Stadium on Thursday. He was declared the Man of the Match for his brilliant allround show in what was a pulsating clash.

The start of the much-awaited clash was exactly how fans expect in matches involving the two sides - plenty of action and combativeness on the pitch. 

In the third minute, Al Rayyan’s Ahmed Abdelmaqsoud bumped into Guilherme Torres of Al Sadd, causing a short stoppage as players received treatment.

In the seventh minute, Baghdad Bounedjah barged into the Al Rayyan box, but his shot from close range was blocked by Khaled Muftah. A few seconds later, Bounedjah had another go, but this time Al Rayyan keeper Saoud Al Hajri palmed his low shot away.

In the 16th minute, Al Rayyan’s Mohammed Juma was booked with a yellow for a sliding tackle on feared striker Akram Afif a few feet away from the edge of the Al Rayyan box. Cazorla produced a low free-kick that hit the goalpost to the left of Al Hajri.

Al Sadd ramped up their attacks by producing two quality moves in succession after the first half hour. In one move, Bounedjah, after a sharp cross from Akram, hit the crossbar in the 36th minute and a few seconds later, the feared Algerian striker produced a bicycle kick that sailed past the goalpost.

In the 63rd minute, Al Rayyan seemingly broke the deadlock when Shojae Khalilzadeh headed in a free-kick, but the assistant referee ruled offside. Nine minutes later, Al Sadd coach Xavi benched Hassan Al Haydous and brought in Rodrigo Tabata.

Earlier in the second half, Al Sadd and Al Rayyan had brought in attacking midfielders Nam Tae-Hee and Yacine Brahimi respectively.

Big drama then unfolded when Shojae could not avoid a handball infringement while chasing Bounedjah inside his own box. VAR gave a penalty decision in favour of Al Sadd and Cazorla smashed the ball into the centre of the net even as Al Rayyan keeper Al Hajri dived to his left.

Three minutes later, Bounedjah nearly made it 2-0 for Al Sadd with a superbly-taken right-footed drive that beat keeper Al Hajri, but the ball narrowly missed the target.

In injury time, Al Rayyan’s Shojae headed from close range off a free-kick, but his deflection flew just above the Al Sadd crossbar.