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Al Sadd garner Emir Cup glory with record 16th title

Al Sadd garner Emir Cup glory with record 16th title

Xavi’s boys beat Al Rayyan 2-1 in final watched by a crowd of 47,332

Ikoli Victor
Hamroun Jugurtha was the hero as Al Sadd beat arch-rivals Al Rayyan 2-1 to win Qatar's most prestigious cup competition, the Emir Cup 2017 final for a record 16th time at the iconic Khalifa International Stadium, one of the venue for the 2022 FIFA World Cup finals.
With the game tied at 1-1 in regulation time and with four minutes added, the silky Algerian was set on goal after a beautiful pass from Spanish legend and skipper Xavi Hernandez. The move opened space for the winger Hamroun to smash the ball into the top corner of Oumar Barry's post to give the Wolves a famous win in front of a record 47,332 crowd.
The win was Al Sadd's third Emir Cup success in six straight finals and automatically qualifies Jesualdo Ferreira's men into the AFC Champions League group stage for the first time in three seasons.
The victory was Al Sadd's second silverware of the season after picking up the Qatar Cup.
The winning trophy was Barcelona legend and World Cup winner Xavi's second top prize in a month since his arrival in the country two seasons ago.
The match lived up to its billing with both teams throwing men forward in search of an early lead. It was Ali Assadallah who put the ball into the net first, but he was ruled offside.
Al Rayyan star Rodrigo Tabata's free kick from 20 yards went an inch wide off the target in the 14th minute as the Lions looked adventurous going forward.
Al Sadd took the initiative with Xavi in the thick of the action with fine passes to his forward players, but the strikers lacked the cutting edge.
One tradition of the Emir Cup, not left out in this year's final, was the refereeing with Italian referee Gianlucca Rocchi being the man in the middle. He indicated he was not in the business to tolerate malicious fouls after Al Sadd's Pedro Miguel retaliated on Gonzalo Viera after the former fouled him.
The Italian Serie A official flashed a yellow card for the two players just before half time.
Just before the break, Hassan Haydos' flick from Abdelkarim Hassan's pass went wide to end the first half proceedings.
Tabata broke the deadlock four minutes into the second session when he connected a through pass to fire a low shot that Saad Abdulla al Dosari stopped but the Brazilian-born Qatari international reacted quickest to slot home the rebound from close range. It was the playmaker's 24th goal of the season.
Algerian Baghdad Boune djah's header was parried away for a corner kick from Hamroun's cross inside the box.
The Wolves' incessant pressure finally yielded dividend when Al Rayyan defender Moahmmed Alaaeldin kicked Bounedjah in an attempt to clear the ball.
Rocchi didn't hesitate to call for a penalty that was protested strongly by the Al Rayyan players. But the resultant kick was neatly dispatched by Haydos in the 52nd minute.
Michael Laudrup sent in Sebastian Soria to replace Ahmed Alaaeldin whose performance was just about average in the opening half.
Soria's first contribution to the game was a decent pass for Tabata that the latter almost utilised but for the defensive units in the Al Sadd backline.
Al Rayyan looked more purposeful in attack and more dangerous in dead ball situations as Viera's knee-effort from a Tabata cross crashed to the bar in the 68th minute.
Bounedjah missed a begging chance when he volleyed the ball that deflected for a corner kick. From that position, you would expect the big striker to do better and add to his 29 goals of the season.
Substitute Mohammed Kasola went close with a header that was inches from target.
Al Sadd's perseverance eventually paid off in the first minute of added time when a brilliant Xavi pass found Hamroun, who outpaced his marker to fire the ball into the top corner of Barry's post.
Al Sadd should have added two goals more after Asadallah's shot hit the bar and Bounedjah failed to control the ball in a one-on-one situation with Barry.
The match was a beauty for football fans with the LED lights and cooling technology adding to the comfort and delight.
There was three hours of fun at the fan zone area with 19 expat communities presenting a spectacular cultural and musical performance.
Result: Al Sadd 2 (Hassan al Haydos (56’ (Pen), Jugurtha Hamroun 90+1’) bt Al Rayyan 1 (Rodrigo Tabata).