QNB Stars League
Al Sadd upstaged Al Rayyan 2-0 in a strongly-contested return leg of the Qatar Clasico in Week 20 of the 2022-2023 season QNB Stars League at the Al Sadd Stadium on Friday.
The goals for the defending champions were scored by Rodrigo Tabata (70th minute) and Algerian striker Baghdad Bounedjah (90+7 minute).
While Al Rayyan came close to scoring on a few occasions they could not get it over the line against the formidable rivals. Al Rayyan were also down to 10 men after Mohammed Emad Aiash was shown the red card in the 80th minute of the match for foul play.
The win took Al Sadds tally to 41 points to be third in the standings behind leaders Al Duhail (45 points) and Al Arabi (43 points) both teams are scheduled to play their Week 20 matches on Saturday.
Al Rayyan, on 17 points from 20 games, still hover over the relegation zone.
The Lions, however, could consider themselves unfortunate as they had their chances which slipped away. One was in the 88th minute goal-mouth melee action after a Hassan Al Haydous defence kick landed near the left post with Al Rayyan striker Yohan Boli lurking, but substitute Musaab Khidir rushed in to head the ball to safety. And later in injury time of play, when Musaab made another good clearance following an Al Rayyan free-kick as Boli tripped.
The counter-attack of Al Sadd then saw Bounedjah run away with the ball to beat Al Rayyan goalkeeper Ivanildo Rodrigues with ease.
Earlier, there was a tough tussle between the two traditional rivals and in the 56th minute Al Sadd survived a big scare when Al Rayyans French-born Moroccan midfielder Sofiane Boufal made a kick from the right which hit the legs of goalkeeper Meshaal Barshim to bounce and fall over the goalline.
Al Rayyan had threatened to score in the 86th minute as well when Boli, held back by a defender again, could not beat Barsham as the ball hit the right boot of the knelt-down custodian and ballooned over.
Al Sadd broke the deadlock after a dangerous Bounedjah header was parried away by a leaping Rodrigues in the 65th minute.
Five minutes later, Tabata produced the first thrill as he clung on to an Afif assist inside the penalty area and broke past surrounding defenders for his left foot kick to beat a diving goalkeeper to his left just brushing past the fingers.
The gripping action and close moments provided a lot of excitement to fans of both teams present in large numbers.
Al Sadd now have two games left in the league one each against Al Duhail and Al Arabi respectively and will surely look to provide for a fight till the finish.