Defending champions Al Sadd prevailed over title contenders Al Duhail 3-1 in their penultimate Week 21 clash of the 2022-2023 season QNB Stars League at the Al Duhail Stadium on Thursday to set a thrilling finale of the league championship.
The Wolves were however down to 10 men in 87th minute of the match after Tarek Salman was shown the red card, but they held on to emerge as winners.
While Baghdad Bounedjah (41st minute), Akram Afif (51st minute) and Rodrigo Tabata (75th minute) got the goals for Al Sadd, Michael Olunga scored the only goal for Al Duhail from a penalty in the 73rd minute.
It was also Kenyan striker Olunga’s 18th goal of the season and he is now tied with Omar Al Somah, who also has scored the same number of goals for Al Arabi.
A win would have sealed the championship title for Al Duhail, but The Red Knights’ only third defeat of the season has now brought about a thrilling scenario where Al Duhail and Al Arabi both can have a shot at the title in the final round (Week 22). While Al Duhail have 48 points, Al Arabi have 46 and Al Sadd have 44.
Al Duhail will play Al Shamal in Week 22 while Al Arabi will meet Al Sadd.
Both Al Duhail and Al Arabi have scored 15 wins each so far but Al Duhail currently hold the advantage of four goals in goal difference over Al Arabi in case both teams end in a tie after the final round.
Against Al Sadd, The Red Knights got off to a strong start in front of their home fans but they missed several chances including a hit over the bar from a close range by captain Karim Boudiaf following a long ball from Mohamed Musa in the 16th minute.
Al Sadd earned the lead through Baghdad Bounedjah’s brilliance as he deceived two defenders to put the ball past Al Duhail goalkeeper Salah Zakaria.
Akram Afif lobbed past Zakaria to double the advantage for Al Sadd ten minutes later.
Rodrigo Tabata then sealed the victory for the Wolves after Michael Olunga pulled one back for Al Duhail by converting a penalty.
Al Sadd received a late setback with a red card to Tarek Salman, but ensured no damage.
A win over Al Arabi in the final game of the QNB Stars League season would earn them a second-place finish.