Umm Salal and Markhiya played out a 1-1 draw in Week 11 of the 2023-2024 Expo Stars League at the Thani Bin Jassim Stadium of Al Gharafa club on Friday.
Both goals were scored by Umm Salal's players, with Oussama Tannane getting the equalizer in the 42nd minute after Marouane Louadni had scored an own goal in the sixth minute.
With the result, Umm Salal’s points tally rose to 15, while Al Markhiya, who have only registered one win from 11 fixtures, have four points.
The match started at a fast pace, with both teams in a hurry to grab an early goal in order to gain control of the proceedings.
However, the early luck of the game fell to Al Markhiya, who were gifted the lead in the sixth minute with Umm Salal’s Louadni turning the ball into his own net while attempting to clear Al Markhiya’s Ali Nasser Al Marri’s cross inside the 18-yard box.
Stunned by the early goal, The Orange Fortress quickly regained their composure, and they began to search for an equalizer in earnest. They almost got their wishes in the 14th minute when Ali Afif jumped highest to connect with a cross from the right side of the six-yard box by Tannane, but his header astonishedly hit the left post.
Three minutes before the end of regular time in the first half, Tannane got Umm Salal the much-needed relief when he fired in a left-footed banger of a shot from 25 yards out that the outstretched hand of goalkeeper Loukay Sherif Ashour could not keep away to take his team back into the game and maintain an even balance as the first half ends.
With both teams eager to garner the maximum points and improve their rankings in the standings, it was therefore not surprising to see players on both sides resorting to all manners of tricks to help their team.
Umm Salal had most of the advantages in the early part of the second half, and they could have taken the lead in the 50th minute had Victor Lekhal’s header from the centre of the box not narrowly missed to the left. Tannane’s left-footed shot from outside the box from a direct free-kick also went a bit higher than expected in the 53rd minute.
Al Markhiya also got a couple of chances of their own, especially through Driss Fettouhi (65th minute) and Naoufal Bannis (70th minute), but none were converted.
The match got even livelier in the dying minutes as both teams went in search of the winner, but to no avail.