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Tribune News Network
Santi Cazorla bagged a beauty on his debut as Al Sadd eased past Al Ahli 2-0 in the semi-final of the Ooredoo Cup on Saturday. The Wolves will meet rivals Al Arabi in a derby final after The Dream Team edged Al Rayyan 2-1 in the other semis.
Cazorla, who enjoyed memorable stints with Spanish club Malaga, Villarreal, and English side Arsenal, made his debut in Qatar memorable. The Spaniard started the game, impressed with his speed and dribbling skills before being substituted late in the match.
Yousef Abdulrazaq started the proceedings for Al Sadd by shooting over the bar in the seventh minute. Baghdad Bounedjah sent his shot straight to goalkeeper Ivanildo Rodriguez in the 12th minute.
Al Ahli’s only first-half chance came when Abdulrasheed Umaru tested goalkeeper Meshaal Barsham the next minute.
In the second half, Al Ahli’s Hazem Shehata’s angular shot in the 53rd minute was parried by Barsham. A spate of activity saw Al Ahli’s Umaru’s shot being blocked by Al Sadd’s Bahaa Mamdouh and Nabil shoot wide of the target.
At the other end, Bounedjah failed to connect a Mohammed Waad cross, and Akram, who came off the bench in the second half, ballooned his shot.
Cazorla put Al Sadd ahead as he linked up with Yousef Abdulrazaq and Bounedjah before curling the ball into the net’s top left corner.
Akram sealed the match with a neat finish past the Al Ahli goalkeeper after playing a one-two with Ahmed Bader Sayyar.
Hamdi Harbaoui scored the winner in the other match as Al Arabi beat a wasteful Al Rayyan side 2-1.
Heimir Hallgrimmson’s men fought back from being a goal down and showed a hunger they perhaps lacked during the QSL season.
Al Rayyan had more of the ball, and expectedly, Yacine Brahimi led Al Rayyan’s charge and took the lead around the half-hour mark through Al Harazi, whose placing shot went into the goal off the defensive wall.
New signing Abdulaziz al Ansari drew level for Al Arabi by converting Gunnarsson’s throw-in from the right.
Hamdi headed in Gunnarsson’s measured cross from the right, off the latter’s throw-in to give The Dream the lead.
Al Rayyan’s series of attacks saw Al Arabi goalkeeper Mahmoud Abunada thwart Abdulaziz Hatem twice as they held on to set up a famous final with their Doha rivals.
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