By Sports Reporter/Doha
Al Arabi and Al Ahli stormed into the semi-finals of the Ooredoo Cup yesterday. Pierre-Michelle Lasogga scored the only goal in Arabi’s 1-0 win over Al Wakrah in the first quarter-final, while captain Nabil El Zhar’s all-important goal in the 55th minute turned out to be the winner for Ahli against the two-time reigning champions Al Gharafa at the Al Arabi Stadium yesterday.
In the first quarter-final, if it was Al Wakrah who had more possession in the first half, it was Al Arabi who created more chances. Lasogga, who found the net after being set up by Morteza Mohamed with a header, led Al Arabi’s charge as Mohamed Salal El Neel, who has not recovered fully from an injury, was replaced in the 11th minute by Yousef Abdurizag.
Yousef then made back-to-back attempts besides testing goalkeeper Hassan Idriss with a long-range shot. Mohamed Benyettou spearheaded Al Wakrah’s challenge even as injured forward Christian Ceballos continued to sit in the stands.
Iliass Bel Hassani pulled the strings from the midfield, while Benyettou and Omar Ali made attempts for an equaliser. In the second half, Al Wakrah pressed hard for a goal in the face of exit from the tournament. However, that never came as The Dream Team hung on to the slender lead, thanks also to their goalkeeper Mahmoud Ibrahim. Even some last-ditch efforts did not help the Blue Wave either.
Later, Gharafa thus suffered the ignominy of having bowed out of cup competitions in successive weeks in quarter-final stage after they lost to Al Markhiya in the Amir Cup.
Possession was even in the match that was fast-paced right from the onset. Al Gharafa missed the services of Hector Moreno, Koo Ja-Cheol, Ahmed Alaaeldin and Sofiane Hanni to injuries. Without them, the likes of Jonathan Kodjia, Othman al-Yahri, Yossef Muftah and Adlene Guedioura could not do much.
On the other hand, Al Ahli made up for the absence of injured spearhead Abel Mathias, thanks mainly to outstanding displays by Nabil and Hernan Perez.
Ahli even survived the absence of Hernan to a red card (second yellow) from the 67th minute. After Al Ahli’s Abdelrahman Moustafa’s long shot went wide in the first half, Kodjia fumbled with a one-on-one with goalkeeper Ivanildo Rodrigues.
Soon at the other end, Nabil sent his shot marginally over the bar. Al Ahli upped the ante in the second half and were rewarded when Nabil capitalised on a defensive mistake by Homam Elamin, who misjudged the flight of a long ball.
Al Ahli, who had reached the quarter-final of Amir Cup last week by beating Qatar SC, had a goal scored by Abdelrahman Moustafa disallowed through VAR in the 74th minute. Today, Al Khor will face Al Rayyan, while Qatar SC take on Al Sadd in the remaining quarter-final matches.
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