Lekhwiya retain Sheikh Jassim Cup
DOHA: Lekhwiya sent a strong warning to their rivals by retaining the season-opening Sheikh Jassim Cup last Monday.
In an eventful and pulsating match played at the Al Sadd Stadium, the Emir’s Cup winners handed league champions Al Rayyan, who ended up with 10 men, a 2-0 defeat, with goals from new Moroccan striker Yousef El Arabi (fifth) and Qatar international winger Ismail Mohammed (injury time).
DOHA: Lekhwiya’s national team players had looked physically and mentally drained after their second straight defeat in the FIFA World Cup qualification against Uzbekistan last week, but they were fresh again against Rayyan.
Jorge Fossati’s men looked good at the start and created some clear chances. Spanish forward Sergio Garcia failed to find the target from close after Sebastian Soria pulled the ball back from the byline while captain Rodrigo Tabata sent one over the net. The Lions paid the price for not converting them as Lekhwiya scored in the fifth minute.
El Arabi scrambled the ball home after Chico Flores flicked a Nam Tae-Hee corner from the left towards the goal and Gonzalo Viera’s hash of a clearance resulted in a melee.
Djamel Belmadi’s men took control of the proceedings from then on and maintained it until the end.
Youssef Msakni found his effort bounce off the left post in the 38th after Karim Boudiaf found him with a fine pass from the left while El Arabi’s shot was blocked by Saoud Al Hajri just before half-time.
The cops continued to dictate terms in the second session and though Fossati strengthened his frontline by bringing in Ahmed Alaaedin and Babou Siddiqui, they failed to find the equaliser. And when they went all out, Rayyan lost midfielder Ulises Pascua to a red card for bringing down Ismail who surged ahead following a quick counter attack in the 87th.
Ismail killed the game in injury time when he tapped home from close after Luiz Martin’s free-kick scraped the head of Viera and crashed against the post only to bounce back into play.
Qatar Football Association President Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa bin Ahmed Al Thani gave away the trophy in the presence of Qatar Stars League CEO Hani Taleb Ballan.