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Al Sadd draws Al Rayyan in QSL

IKOLI VICTOR DOHA

AL Sadd held Al Rayyan in a goalless draw at the end of a thrilling Qatar Stars League match played at the packed Al Sadd Stadium on Saturday.

Second-placed Al Rayyan now has 33 points from 20 matches and was the better side all through ninety minutes.

The side was eager to gallop ahead and move closer to leaders Lekhwiya with 42 points. Lekhwiya plays Al Arabi on Sunday. However, Al Sadd in fourth place managed to thwart numerous dangerous moves by Al Rayyan’s Brazilian duo of Afonso Alves and Rodrigo Tabata.

After this result, Al Sadd also has 33 points while Al Jaish on 32 points is placed fourth. It was the second successive draw for Al Sadd - who were held 3-3 by Qatar SC a week ago. Al Sadd has not failed to produce a win in its last six QSL fixtures.

“Am happy with the performance of the players, we played a great match as the results shows but for ill luck in front of goal,” said Rayyan Coach Diego Aguierro after the match.

But for poor finishing from its Brazilian strikers Afonso and Tabata, Rayyan would have comfortably won the clasico.

Afonso was the worst culprit.

With just twelve minutes remaining in the game; the Brazilian had a golden chance when an Abdulla Taleb’s fierce shot from inside the box was parried by Sadd goalkeeper Mohamed Saqr, the ball rebounded to Afonso, who had time to pick his spot but the striker volleyed it wide.

Guieero was however full of praise for his striking players, who had scored 15 goals in its last four league games. “We cannot criticise Afonso, he did his best but was unlucky today.” The Rayyan coach is hopeful that the team will win its remaining two matches to finish in second place.

Asked about on the team’s performance, Al Sadd Coach Jorge Fossati said, “The game was very tough for both teams.

The result was not too favourable but the draw was fair. We should have had a penalty but the referee waived it aside.” Fossati replaced some of his big players like Abdulkader Keita and Ibrahim Khalfan for poor performance. Khalfan was substituted after 65 minutes by Al Sadd’s leading goal scorer Majed Mohammed while Keita gave way for Yusef Ahmed with fifteen minutes left.

Responding to a question on Keita’s grievance for his substitution, Fossati said, “After 65 minutes he was tired and my job is to make changes when necessary.” “It is normal to substitute players in the interest of the team,” he added.

Fossati praised Olympic team players Naser Nabeel and Almehdi Ali who showed great promises in the crunch tie.

The Al Sadd team played its usual 4-4-2 formation with Mammadou Niang and Abdulkader played in front of Ibrahim Khalfan. Wesam Rizik was the captain for Sadd in the absence of Abdulla Koni.

Rayyan dominated the opening five minutes and had a goal scoring opportunity by Afonso Aves thwarted.

Nadir Belhadj was Al Sadd’s best performer in the match with his telling crosses from the left flank. On one occasion his cross for Niang was blocked by Saud Abdulla in goal for Rayyan in the 8th minute.

Mohamed Saqr produced a decent save to deny Fabio Cesar from close range in the34th minute.

Belhadj came close to scoring in the 39th minute after collecting a pass from Keita, but his effort was wide.

It was a tight opening half that saw Rayyan gain more control of the ball. Tabata provided the first action just four minutes into the second half when his fierce shot was blocked by Mohamed Saqr.

His constant runs from the midfield caused problems for the Sadd defence line.

Italian referee Nicola Rizzoli flashed two yellow cards for Rayyan’s Murad Naji and Sadd’s Nabeel.

Four fans won VIP tickets to see a Barcelona league match in the Spanish Primera Division.

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