By Sports Reporter/Doha
A first-half brace by Nabil El Zhar saw Al Ahli beat Umm Salal 2-0 in the QNB Stars League at the Qatar SC Stadium yesterday.
El Zhar struck in the 30th and 44th minutes as Al Ahli moved on to 15 points with their fifth victory. The Brigadiers, are now back on top of the league table, have dropped points in only one match when they lost 1-7 to Al Sadd.
Umm Salal remained on four points.
In the 16th minute, Umm Salal’s Rabeh Yahia Boussafi delivered a cross from the flank, but Al Ahli’s Shane Lowry nearly messed up with his clearance with a left-footed attempt in his own box. The ball took a loopy aerial route, but Al Ahli keeper Ivanildo Rodrigues smartly pouched the floating shot.
Three minutes before the half-hour mark, Al Ahli’s Jasem Mohamed chased down a short cross from El Zhar and charged into the Umm Salal box. Jasem smashed the ball into the top of the net, but the effort was ruled offside as his team-mate Hernan Perez was caught stationed close to the goalline with no defenders in sight.
However, a few minutes later, Al Ahli opened the scoring following a melee inside the Umm Salal box. After a few missed attempts by Al Ahli players, El Zhar fired a low shot that beat three defenders and the outstretched hand of goalkeeper Baba Malick before the ball crashed into the net.
Abdulrasheed Ibrahim Umaru found El Zhar with a slick cross from the flank, but the latter produced a wayward volley from inside the box with only the keeper to beat in the 37th minute.
The second goal came when El Zhar, after receiving a short cross from Umaru, unleashed a powerful shot from the edge of Umm Salal box and beat keeper Malick.
Meanwhile, Qatar SC defeated Al Wakrah 1-0, courtesy of a Sardor Rashidov penalty in the 17th minute. The third match of the day between Al Sailiya and Al Khor ended in a goalless draw.
Today Xavi Hernandez’s Al Sadd will take on Al Arabi.
“An important match awaits us and our opponents are a very strong team, which has qualified for the Amir Cup final. They are going through good times and have good players and a good coach, so the match will be very difficult, as is usually the case with all matches between the two teams,” said Xavi at his press conference yesterday.
“Certainly, we aspire to win the three points and we do not have many injuries. Only Baha Ellaithi and goalkeeper Saad al-Dosari will be absent because of injuries. All other players are ready. Now, we have a large group to choose the squad and we are very happy.
“I think Al Sadd are the favourites to win, but we have to show our true level on the field. We have experience playing such matches, as there is no room for mistakes, added Xavi.
Al Arabi coach Heimir Hallgrimsson agreed Al Sadd are the favourites.
“Statistics favour Al Sadd over Al Arabi over the past five years. Al Sadd are a strong team, given the potential of the players who represent 80 per cent of the Qatar national team, so we know with whom we are playing and there is no need to fear anything,” said the Icelander.
“We are trying to improve our level and always get close to the performance of Al Sadd, but we know that there are still a lot of steps to be taken, and the only thing we can do is train and do our best and we hope to perform well against them.
“There are some injuries in the team, most notably Jassem Jaber, who suffered an injury with the national team, but we focus on players who are ready to play and fight for Al Arabi. In other matches today, Al Duhail take on Al Gharafa and Al Rayyan take on Kharaitiyat.
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