QSL Cup Final — Al Gharafa 3 Al Rayyan 2
Al Gharafa regained the QSL Cup with a hard-fought 3-2 victory over Al Rayyan in a dramatic title clash that brought out excitement right throughout at the Qatar SC Stadium on Tuesday.
The Cheetahs thus repeated history, having also won the inaugural edition of the tournament in 2009-10. Al Sadd, Al Wakrah, erstwhile El Jaish and Qatar SC, in that order, were the other champions before the tournament was revived this season after a space of three seasons.
Captain Luis Jimenez (third minute), Amro Seraj (36th) and Ahmed Alaaeldin (64th) netted Al Gharafa’s goals.
Abderrazaq Hamdallah (12th) and Mohammed Kassola (70th) gave Al Rayyan’s reply.
Qatar Football Association Vice-President Saud Abdulaziz Al Mohannadi crowned the winners in the presence of Qatar Stars League CEO Hani Taleb Ballan.
Al Gharafa straightaway raided the rival citadel and were immediately rewarded when captain Luis Jimenez shook the Al Rayyan net, capitalising on a defensive mistake.
Al Rayyan slowly took control of the proceedings and were soon on level terms when prolific scorer Hamdallah found the target. The goal resulted from a free-kick taken by playmaker Rodrigo Tabata that came off the defensive wall. Tabata himself chipped the ball back for Hamdallah to score.
Jimenez was again the star past half hour as he sprayed a pass to the left wing for Alaaeldin to cross and Seraj was bang on target to help Al Gharafa regain the lead.
Referee Abdulla Ali Athba had to flash a yellow card to Al Rayyan’s Ahmed Abdel Maqsoud for a lunging foul on Al Gharafa’s Diogo Amado in the 40th and Hamdallah too got booked for questioning the decision.
Al Rayyan struggled when Tabata could not be his usual self and striker Sebastian Soria failed to make inroads into the rival territory.
On the other hand, Al Gharafa came up with a far better display, with the enterprising Alaaeldin, who hogged the limelight along with Jimenez, taking a lot of initiatives. Their defenders also stood firm.
Alaaeldin himself got on the scoresheet after an hour and the goal, a long-range solo effort, had brilliance written all over it.
Al Rayyan coach Michael Laudrup, meanwhile, brought on Mohsine Moutaouali in place of Daniel Goumou and Aldoukali Al Baoure for Soria.
Kassola then reduced the margin by heading in a Tabata corner kick from the right.
The game witnessed some dramatic scenes when Al Rayyan earned a penalty in the 79th after Seraj tripped Mohammed Alaaeldin inside the box. Tabata took the shot from the spot, but Qasim Burhan drew all his top-flight experience to block it. Tempers flared and three Al Gharafa players were booked as they continued their protests.
There was something extra to cheer for the fans at a football challenge competition, held during half-time, where they dribbled through poles and took shots at the goal to walk away with attractive prizes.