Al Duhail are the new Qatar Cup champions. In an electrifying final on Friday night, they defeated holders
Al Sadd 2-1.
Al Duhail thus made it a double, having won the QNB Stars League with an unbeaten record.
Qatar Olympic Committee President HE Sheikh Joaan bin Hamad Al Thani crowned the winners, witnessed by a strong crowd of 11,840 at the Al Sadd Stadium.
Ismail Mohamed (78th minute) and Youssef El Arabi (penalty deep into stoppage time) scored the goals for Al Duhail who made a brilliant comeback into the match after being down by Hassan Al Haydous’ goal in the 19th minute.
The match, as expected, was fast-paced. Al Duhail kept missing the services of injured attacking midfielder Youssef Msakni, whereas Al Sadd were without Ali Asad, who sustained a thigh injury during training ahead of the match.
Al Duhail had more possession in the first half, but Al Sadd created more openings.
The Wolves were on the offensive right from the start and were rewarded when Al Haydous found the mark after Bounedjah set him up with a header off a corner by Xavi.
Just before the goal, Akram Afif showed glimpses of his brilliance and why he was selected by top Spanish club Villarreal when he missed the mark by inches following a solo run along the left.
Al Sadd’s other chances during the session resulted in Bounedjah hitting over the bar from the ‘D’ after he failed to connect the ball with a header and Morteza Mohammed and Hamed Ismail both fumbling with a Xavi free-kick.
Al Duhail’s best chance to draw parity came on the half-hour mark, but Ismail Mohamed was thwarted by goalkeeper Saad Al Dossari.
Moroccan striker Youssef El Arabi, the top scorer in this season’s QNB Stars League with 26 goals, came up with a feeble header that went inches wide as the first half drew to a close.
Al Duhail came back from the breather with an aggressive game, like they did against Al Gharafa in semifinal.
Meanwhile, Bounedjah had a golden opportunity to double the lead when he was put through alone inside the box after Bassam Al Rawi erred in marking him. However, a moment’s lapse by the Algerian striker saw Lucas Mendes came flying and avert the danger.
Captain Xavi continued to be the centre of Al Sadd’s game, while South Korean Nam Tae-Hee, in the company of skipper Karim Boudiaf, was the main source of passes for Al Duhail’s frontmen.
In between, Akram hit straight to goalkeeper Amine Lecomte after an hour.
Al Duhail’s persistent efforts paid off when Ismail placed home a rebound from Al Dossari off his own shot following a move that was initiated by Nam.
The final moments of the game saw dramatic scenes when referee Abdulla Ali Athba awarded a penalty to Al Duhail after referring to the Video Assistant Referee system when El Arabi was tripped by Boualem Khoukhi inside the box. Al Sadd players protested and subsequently Xavi was given a second yellow card resulting in his send-off from the substitutes’ bench.
This was the third successive time the Qatar Cup final was becoming a Live Snapchat Story, after two successful seasons. The number of viewers in 2016 was more than 1.5 million, while that exceeded 1.8 million in 2017.
Al Sadd reached the final by edging arch-rivals Al Rayyan 6-2 on penalties after the regular time ended in a 2-2 draw.
Al Duhail’s path to the title was relatively easier as they prevailed over Al Gharafa by a 6-1 margin in the second semifinal.