QNB Stars League Week 16 - Al Sadd 1 Al Arabi 1
Al Arabi rallied fiercely to hold reigning champions Al Sadd to a 1-1 draw in Week 16 of the 2019-20 QNB Stars League at the Al Sadd Stadium on Thursday.
The much-anticipated match, dubbed the Qatar Derby, pitted two teams with passionate fans against each other. And it lived up to its billing.
Al Arabi, coached by Icelander Heimir Hallgrimsson, put up a far improved performance than they did in their 1-6 loss to Al Sadd in the first leg of this season’s tournament, in a match deferred due to the latter’s commitment in the 2019 AFC Champions League.
Akram Afif gave Al Sadd the lead by scoring in the 29th minute. Pierre-Michel Lasogga drew parity for Al Arabi by converting from the penalty spot in the 88th minute.
Al Sadd dominated the ball and all departments of the game with 70 per cent possession precisely in both halves. The Wolves also created more chances on either side of the breather as they forced 13 corner kicks as against Al Arabi’s just one. However, The Dream Team succeeded in containing the rival attacks, whose frequency increased by several notches in the second session.
Al Sadd now have 32 points, seven adrift of leaders Al Duhail who beat Al Shahania 3-1 in the day’s earlier kick-off. Al Arabi moved to 21 points.
While Al Arabi earned a crucial point in their bid to finish among the top four and thus stand a chance for an AFC Champions League berth, Al Sadd dropped two valuable points in successive weeks. They were held 2-2 by Umm Salal in the previous week.
Al Sadd, who have won both titles so far on offer this season (Sheikh Jassim Cup and Qatar Cup), were without the injured trio of Hassan Al Haydous, Salem Al Hajri and Ali Asad, while Al Arabi had their top scorer Hamdi Harbaoui back in action from an injury although he took the field in the second half.
In the first half, Al Arabi’s Under-23 player Yousef Abdurizag hit the side netting and had a shot saved by Saad Al Dossari, which was a rebound after the Al Sadd goalkeeper first thwarted Mohammed Saad.
For Al Sadd, Baghdad Bounedjah came close and Jung Woo-Young had a free-kick saved by Mahmoud Abunada, who had yet another good game below the Al Arabi bar.
Akram’s goal came off a familiar sight, with Bounedjah providing him with a through pass.
The intensity increased in the second half as Al Sadd’s Marco Fabian too became dangerous.
The penalty was awarded through VAR and Lasogga was bang on target.
Al Sadd then pressed hard for a winner, but in vain.