Defending champions Al Duhail came from two goals down to defeat Al Rayyan 3-2 in Week 8 of the 2023-2024 season Expo Stars League at the Abdullah bin Khalifa Stadium of Al Duhail club on Thursday.
Michael Olunga scored the winner of the high-intensity match in the 88th minute after he had earlier restored parity for his team in the 80th minute.
Al Duhail’s first goal was scored by Almoez Ali in the 59th minute off a penalty after Roger Guedes had given Al Rayyan a two-goal lead in the 15th and 41st minutes.
Al Duhail now have 16 points, while Al Rayyan remained on 15 points.
Unsurprisingly, the match drew a huge crowd considering the large fan base of both teams and the strong sporting rivalry between them.
With both teams showcasing their best to the delight of their fans, the match recorded its first goal through Guedes in the 15th minute, who fired home a right-footed shot from the left side of the six-yard box to the bottom right corner after being put through by Moreno.
Three minutes later, Al Duhail almost restored parity, but Kim Moon-Hwan’s right-footed attempt from outside the box went inches high.
Al Duhail’s Brazilian international Philippe Coutinho also saw his right-footed shot from the centre of the box following a weighed pass by Ismail Mohammed blocked in the 26th minute.
Al Rayyan doubled their lead in the 41st minute, with Guedes hitting his brace of the night from Osamah Al Tairi’s assist. The ball located the 27-year-old Brazilian forward unmarked in Al Duhail’s 18-yard box after Al Tairi’s well-timed pass and he wasted no time in blasting home with a right-footed shot to the top left corner of goalkeeper Salah Zakaria’s goal.
Much as Al Duhail tried to cut the deficit in the first half, Al Rayyan maintained their lead as the team headed into the dugout.
Al Duhail came out of the dugout all fired up for the second half and they took the battle to Al Rayyan’s gate from the blast of the resumption whistle with their more attack-minded play and firm control of the midfield.
In the 54th minute, Coutinho saw his right-footed shot from the right side of the box blocked. Three minutes later, Assim Madibo drew a foul in Al Rayyan’s penalty area after being tackled by Thiago Mendes, who got a card for the offence.
The subsequent spot kick was easily converted by Almoez, who hit the target with a right-footed shot to the bottom left corner in the 59th minute to take The Red Knights back into the game.
Parity was restored in the 80th minute, with Olunga finishing off a series of fine moves that started from the midfield by Al Duhail with a right-footed shot from very close range to the bottom right corner off an assist by Sultan Al Brake.
Not relenting, Al Duhail kept attacking in droves as they put Al Rayyan on the backfoot. They came close to taking the lead in the 84th minute, with Ibrahima Bamba’s header from the centre of the box slightly missing to the left.
Four minutes later, Olunga got his eighth goal of the season as he gave Al Duhail the winner with a left-footed shot from the centre of the box to the bottom left corner following a fast break.