Al Shamal snatched a point from Al Gharafa forcing a 1-1 draw in Week 11 of the 2023-2024 season Expo Stars League at the Thani Bin Jassim Stadium of Al Gharafa club on Saturday.
It was a creditable result for Al Shamal, who had to rally after being a goal down for almost a session of play, being rewarded in the end as The Cheetahs rued their own missed chances.
While Yohan Boli struck the goal for Al Gharafa in the 43rd minute, Ricardo Gomes did so for Al Shamal from a penalty in 90+4 minute to draw parity.
Al Gharafa went ahead in the game before the half-time whistle when Al Shamal made the mistake of leaving Boli unmarked on the right and in front of the goal. With Farid Boulaya providing a perfect lob, Boli headed in with effortless ease to leave the rivals shocked.
The Cheetahs, however, could not double their lead and, with Al Shamal putting up a good defence, the margin appeared slender. Towards the end, Al Shamal’s efforts finally bore fruits in stoppage time as Omid Ebrahimi essayed a bicycle kick and Al Gharafa’s Dame Traore, trying to block, was fouled for a hand ball with the referee also signalling for a penalty after a VAR check. Gomes stepped up to strike successfully from the spot.
There were quite a few close chances for Al Gharafa when they lacked at the finish. In particular, once Boli failed to beat rival goalkeeper Abdalla El Rady and once when Yacine Brahimi shot wide while being clear in the striking zone.
Earlier for Al Shamal, Boulaya’s attempt from a free-kick went high and wide, whereas Ali Olwan made a crucial header from the centre of the box, but it also went high.
In the 35th minute, Ebrahimi had made an almost 40-yard long kick, but it was saved in the centre of the goal by Al Gharafa custodian Khalifa Ababacar.
It was a tight tussle as Al Shamal challenged Al Gharafa hard and also succeeded in keeping them at bay in the second half.
The result saw Al Gharafa move up to 24 points after their halfway mark of the league (11 games), while Al Shamal are on 10 points.
This was a second successive draw result for Al Gharafa after they were held by the same margin by Al Wakrah in the previous round.