Lekhwiya crowned Qatar Stars League champions
Lekhwiya SC team
Coach Djamel Belmadi slumped to the ground in prayer after guiding Lekhwiya to their fifth Qatar Stars League title, and the third under his charge, following a dramatic 2-1 win over Al Ahli at the Abdullah bin Khalifa Stadium yesterday.
Lekhwiya led Al Sadd by just two points and needed a win against Al Ahli yesterday at the same time hoping Al Sadd somehow slipped up. And that proved to be the case as Al Sadd were held to a shocking 2-2 draw by Al Sailiya, a result that meant that Lekhwiya will finish top of the table no matter what happens in the last round of the tournament a few days from now.
There was plenty of drama as the match appeared headed for a 1-1 draw, but with six minutes of stoppage time added, Korean Nam Tae-hee scored a last-gasp 95th minute winner to help Lekhwiya clinch the title.
It was a just reward for Lekhwiya who lost only two matches in the QSL campaign and had been the most consistent team over the past few years, having earned the rare distinction of winning the title in their very first year in Qatar’s top flight in the 2010-11 season. Their other wins came in 2011-12, 2013-14 and 2014-15 before the sealed their fifth title yesterday.
“The victory was a culmination of our hard work and dedication,” said coach Belmadi. “We were confident when the season started and we remained confident throughout,” he added.
Al Ahli started the game well and were gifted a chance with just four minutes on the clock when Lekhwiya’s Khalid Radwan played a shocking back pass to the goalkeeper. Al Ahli’s Ali Fereydoun pounced on the ball and smashed into the back of the net to give The Brigadiers an early 1-0 lead.
Lekhwiya soon settled after the early shock and began dominating the centre of the park. In the 31st minute, the pressure paid off when they equalised thanks to a stunning goal from Ismail Mohamed, his fourth this season. Spotting a large gap in between Ahli’s centre backs, Mohamed made dash from the halfway line and latched onto the end of a perfectly weighted 30 yard through-ball, which left him one-on-one with the goalkeeper and able to easily slot it home to make it 1-1.
Lekhwiya continued to press for a second for the remainder of the first half but were unable to find the back of the net again and it finished 1-1 at half time.
Lekhwiya came out in the second half with a lot more life in their legs and pressed from the whistle. But despite dominating possession, Lekhwiya were struggling to carve out any clear-cut chances. In the 61st minute, Al Ahli were lucky not to concede a goal and their defenders were forced to make a number of clearances off the line.
The Red Knights didn’t let their frustration get the better of them though and continued to press deep into injury time.
Then, on the 95th minute Nam Tae-Hee was gifted the ball in the 18-yard box when Al Ahli’s goalkeeper came off his line and dropped a corner he was attempting to claim in the air. The ball fell perfectly for the South Korean who made no mistake and drilled it into the back of the next to give Lekhwiya the lead, and along with it, the title.