Baghdad Bounedjah’s brace helped Al Sadd to a second consecutive Qatar Cup title after a 2-0 win over Al Duhail in the final at the Abdullah bin Khalifa Stadium on Friday. HE Sheikh Joaan bin Hamad al-Thani, President of the Qatar Olympic Committee, crowned the winners.
Al Sadd also had beaten Al Duhail in the final of 2020 Qatar Cup. Bounedjah scored his goals in the ninth and 77th minutes. Bounedjah’s first goal came off a bicycle kick, while Santi Cazorla assisted him for the second.
Al Sadd head coach Xavi Hernandez was delighted with the victory. “I am very happy with the team’s performance. We played a great game and the performance was more than excellent. We played with passion and spirit throughout the match and we deserved this win,” Xavi said.
“We defeated a strong and competitive opponent. We suffered in the second half and this is normal in finals. I want to congratulate all the players, and the staff. We want to win more titles. This was a deserved win and another title for Al Sadd, and we proved that we are the best in Qatar,” he added.
As expected, in-form Al Sadd dominated the match, but Al Duhail would lament the missed chances in the second half that cost them dear. Al Sadd looked to take control of the game in the beginning and they did not have to wait much for a goal, with Bounedjah producing a brilliant goal-scoring display to take his team ahead.
Captain Hassan al-Haydos’ throw reached Nam Tae-Hee near the penalty area and the South Korean’s attempt was rebounded from a defender, giving opportunity to Bounedjah to strike a first-time overhead kick from close range. The consistent striker was accurate in his attempt, giving no chance to Al Duhail goalkeeper Salah Zakaria, who saw the ball sailing in his right corner.
In the 24th minute, Paulo Edmilson Junior made a slick run beating Abdelkarim Hassan in the process, but his shot from outside the box was far from target. Al Sadd enjoyed 62 per cent possession after the first half, but most of the action remained in the middle.
In the 35th minute, referee Khamis Mohammed Al Marri, after consulting VAR, reversed his decision of awarding a penalty to Al Sadd, with video replay showing Mohammed Musa not making any contact with Bounedjah in the area.
As Al Sadd looked to double the lead, al-Haydos’ volley, after receiving a curled pass from Cazorla, went wide. Al Duhail captain Almoez Ali led an attack in stoppage time, but The Red Knights once again failed to come close to scoring.
However, Al Duhail started the second half in a better way, putting pressure on Al Sadd with an attacking display. Bounedjah received a yellow card for pushing Ismail Mohammed, who replaced Ali Malolah after the break. Michael Olunga also came off the bench, replacing Karim Boudiaf, as coach Sabri Lamouchi looked for an equalizer.
In the 55th minute, Al Sadd almost doubled their lead, but Boualem Khoukhi’s superb header struck the goal-post in a respite for Al Duhail. Soon after the hour mark, Olunga missed a golden opportunity after a receiving a brilliant cross from Almoez, but his shot from near the penalty area was too high.
After Xavi called back al-Haydos with Yousef Abdulrazaq replacing him in the 72nd minute, Al Sadd went 2-0 with another Bounedjah goal. Cazorla gave a perfect through pass to the Algerian and, after a short run, he was in a one-two with the keeper, later pushing the ball over Salah for his second goal.
© Gulf Times Newspaper 2021