By Sports Reporter/Doha
Akram Afif grabbed a double as newly-crowned champions Al Sadd concluded the QNB Stars League season with a 6-1 thumping of Umm Salal yesterday.
The Wolves, who won the Falcon Shield with a match to spare last week, were told by coach Jesualdo Ferreira to finish the season with a flourish, and they did so in a manner that has characterised their aggression this season.
Boualem Khoukhi (30), Hassan al-Haydous (41), Hassan Ahmed (57), Afif (63, 69) and Ali Asad (65) were the heroes yesterday as Al Sadd finished with 57 points in 22 matches, comfortably ahead of Al Duhail’s 50. Al Duhail, on their part, defeated Al Arabi 3-1.
For much of the early exchanges, there was parity between the two sides, but this changed in the 30th minute when Khoukhi rose highest to meet a free-kick from the right to get the game’s first goal.
Against the odds, Umm Salal were back level only minutes later when Yanick Sagbo drove home a powerful shot across the face of the keeper. It did not take long for the champions to get back ahead when they were awarded a penalty by VAR following a foul on al-Haydous. There was no mistake with the penalty and the Al Sadd captain earned his side a half-time lead. What happened next was a display of championship-winning football from The Wolves as they ripped the opposition apart with blistering attacking menace inside a 12-minute spell.
First came Hassan with an acrobatic volley from close range, before Akram was first to react to a rebound and slotted home. Moments later, it was the turn of Asad who latched onto a pass from Hamed Ismail and struck his shot past the sprawling arms of the goalkeeper.
Akram completed the scoring, as he reacted to an al-Haydous cut-back in the box. The champions were in fine form and completed the season in the best way possible.
Meanwhile, Al Duhail rounded off their campaign with a 3-0 win over Al Arabi.
Bassam al-Rawi (40), Paolo Edmilson (51) and Yousef El Arabi (73) scored the goals as Al Duhail finished on 50 points following their 15th victory.
Al Arabi failed to build on their win over Qatar SC in the previous round and remained on 30 points after crashing to their 12th defeat.
Having assured themselves of the runners-up place behind newly-crowned champions Al Sadd, 2017-18 QNB Stars League champions Al Duhail took the field with key players like El Arabi, Murad Naji, Karim Boudiaf and Mohamed Moosa on the bench.
El Arabi, the last two seasons’ league top scorer in Qatar, Boudiaf and Moosa came on in the second half and El Arabi found the target as well.
The Red Knights thus put behind the disappointment of losing to Al Kharaitiyat in Week 21.
Bassam opened the scoring with a measured free-kick that beat the hands of goalkeeper Gregory Gomis as the first half came to a close without much of hectic action and with Shoya Nakajima and Diego Jardel pulling the strings from the middle for Al Duhail and Al Arabi respectively.
Al Duhail moved up a gear in the second half and Nakajima had a powerful shot blocked by Gomis even as the latter’s Al Arabi counterpart Khalifa Aboobacker was not kept busy at the other end.
Edmilson scored with a rising shot, while El Arabi’s goal had his brilliance written all over it.
Al Arabi captain and goalkeeper Masoud Zarayi, who announced his retirement after this season to put an end to a playing career that spanned 20 years during which he contributed a lot to The Dream Team in various tournaments, came off the bench in the 86th minute for his last match, replacing Gomis.
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