(MENAFN- Gulf Times) Yusuf El Arabi struck a 90th minute goal as Al Duhail began their QNB Stars League campaign with a thrilling 3-2 win against Qatar Sports Club at the Abdulla bin Khalifa Stadium yesterday.
Newly-promoted Qatar Sports Club proved more than a handful for Al Duhail but just when it seemed they would split points with the defending champs, El Arabi played spoilsport with his second goal of the match.
Al Duhail made a dream start to the match as they opened the scoring in the 18th minute. Attacker Almoez Ali latched onto through neat lofted ball from South Korean playmaker Nam Tae Hee and the Qatari international shrugged off the defence before stroking the ball into the back of the net from a tight angle.
Credit to Qatar SC as they played well and found parity with ten minutes left in the first half. Duhail keeper Khalifa Ababacar spilled a shot that fell into the path of Kings midfielder Ali Jassami and the former Al Arabi player had plenty of time and space to find the back of the net.
Understandably Duhail came out in the second half with renewed vigour and began to dominate play. Club Captain Yusuf Msakni registered the first chance of note of the second half on the 47th minute, which was well saved by the feet of keeper Rajab Hamza.
Djamel Belmadi's side pushed hard to find a second goal and the pressure eventually took a toll on Qatar Sports Club. Substitute Ismael Mohamed found Moroccan international El Arabi with a drilled cross, and last season's top scorer made no mistake from close range to give Duhail a 2-1 lead.
The tie changed just four minutes later when Qatar SC found an equaliser against the run of play. Good hold up play from Habib Habibou saw the striker play a neat ball to Omar Al-Amadi. The midfielder was decisive and his effort found its way into the back of the net, through the arms of keeper Khalifa Ababacar.
With 90 minutes on the clock Duhail's late pressure paid off as El Arabi bagged a scored via a fortuitous deflection to give the Red Knights the win. Msakni knocked the ball into the area and the Moroccan striker gambled on the cross, knocking the ball towards the goal. Keeper Rajab Hamza scrambled to get the ball away from danger, but his save rebounded off the head of El Arabi, to give Djamel Belmadi's side the opening day victory.
Eariler, Al Gharafa were held to a 1-1 draw by Al Ahli in the opening match of the tournament.
Al Alhi arrived under the guidance of new head coach, Joaquín Caparrós. This would've been a game that both teams came into believing that they were good enough for victory, but at the final whistle they had to settle for a draw.
With barely a minute on the clock Ahli got their season off to a flying start. Having won a corner straight from kick off, Ali Sadik sent in an out-swinging cross which was met by Colombian striker, Cristian Nazirit, who confidently powered a header into the back of the net.
Looking to double their advantage, Al Ahli had a goal disallowed on 13 minutes after some neat play. The ball was lofted over the Al Gharafa defence, flicked on by Nazarit before being poked home by Ali Qadri. Replays suggest he was marginally offside.
As the first half came to a close it was Al Gharafa in the ascendency as Al Ahli seemed to be content to play on the break and catch their opponents off guard with the brigadiers attack troubling the Gharafa defence.
With plenty of possession but no notable efforts on goal, Al Gharafa made some changes at half time which resulted in a more attacking display in the second half. A host of chances were narrowly wide of the mark including a mazy run by Al Gharafa's Adel Ahmed who saw his effort shot was tipped onto the bar by Al Ahli's goalkeeper before being cleared to safety.
In the 70th minute Al Gharafa's half-time substitute Luis Jimenez used his vision to send a wonderful reverse through ball into the area, cutting out two Al Ahl players in the process. The pass was met by the energetic Ilyas Mohamed who slotted home from close range to secure a well-deserved equaliser for Gharafa.
Several minutes later, Jiminez had the opportunity to become match winner. After a crafty interchange on the right hand side of the Al Ahli area, the ball was expertly cut back to the former Al Arabi man whose shot was driven just over the bar from close range.
The winner didn't arrive from either in side in spite of some pressure late on. In the end Al Gharafa may feel they could've got more from the game but both sides will be happy to have a point on the board from the opening round of the QNB Stars League season.
Meanwhile, in the third match of the day, Umm Salal beat Al Kharaitiyat 3-1. Ismail Mahmoud, Yannick Sagbo and Abdelaziz Nassr scored for the winners while Mehdi al-Khammasi was on target for Al Kharaitiyat.(qsl.com.qa)
Legal Disclaimer: MENAFN provides the information “as is” without warranty of any kind. We do not accept any responsibility or liability for the accuracy, content, images, videos, licenses, completeness, legality, or reliability of the information contained in this article. If you have any complaints or copyright issues related to this article, kindly contact the provider above.