QNB Stars League Week 16 — Al Rayyan 0 Al Sadd 2

Al Sadd evened out with Al Rayyan in this season’s Qatar Clasico by registering a comfortable 2-0 victory in Week 16 of the QNB Stars League on Thursday.

Attacking midfielder Jugurtha Hamroun (44th minute) and substitute striker Baghdad Bounedjah (79th) added an Algerian flavour to The Wolves’ win by scoring the goals as they compensated for a 1-2 loss in the first-phase Qatar Clasico.

The large number of fans at the Al Sadd Stadium cheered both teams on and the action on the field lived up to the game’s top billing.

Al Sadd moved to 40 points, two behind leaders Al Duhail, who had defeated Al Gharafa 5-1 earlier in the day, while Al Rayyan stayed on 35.

Bounedjah thus made his return from a long injury layoff memorable. He was out of action ever since he got injured during their loss to Al Duhail in Week 9 on 24th November.

Al Rayyan created a chance as early as the third minute when they earned a free-kick following a foul on Abderrazaq Hamdallah, but Rodrigo Tabata’s shot sailed inches over the horizontal past the outstretched hands of goalkeeper Saad Al Dossari.

Al Rayyan started without their ace striker Sebastian Soria. Moroccan forward Hamdallah, The Lions’ top scorer with 12 goals, led their attack. He and Tabata made a few attempts at the rival goal, demanding saves from Al Dossari.

Al Rayyan created more opportunities in the first half. The hectic pace of the match saw Xavi Hernandez testing Barry with a volley. The Spanish great held the Al Sadd midfield together, while Al Rayyan’s Ahmed Abdel Maqsood played the role of a holding midfielder.

Hamroun took Al Sadd ahead close to half-time when he trapped an inch-perfect pass by Xavi after evading the offside trap and chipped in the ball over the head of a diving goalkeeper Omar Barry.

Al Sadd continued to enjoy more of the ball in the second session (57 per cent at the final whistle) even as Al Rayyan bolstered their forward line by replacing midfielder Daniel Goumou with Soria.

Meanwhile, a hardworking Xavi was unlucky on a couple of occasions as his shots went off the mark. 

Al Sadd coach Jesualdo Ferreira introduced Akram Afif, signed recently from Villarreal, Spain, in place of Ali Asad, whereas Al Rayyan players, especially their attackers, seemed to be running out of steam as the match wore on.

Bounedjah replaced Hamroun in the 74th minute and immediately made a big impact by doubling The Wolves’ lead with a placing shot from close after Barry fumbled with a collection.

Al Rayyan made some last-ditch efforts culminating in Soria’s header over the bar as the scoreline remained unchanged.