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Posted On: 22 July 2013 12:31 pm
Updated On: 12 November 2020 02:13 pm

Al Arabi triumphant over Al Rayyan

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Al Arabi came out on top with a late 2-1 win over defending champions Al Rayyan in the opening match of the Sheikh Jassim Cup at Qatar Sports Club on Saturday evening. In a match where both the coaches fielded second-string teams, the first half was sloppy and scoreless. Rayyan took the lead in the 54th minute when Ahmad Khalfan al-Balooshi deflected a pass into the net. Al Rayyan’s joy was short-lived, as Arabi hit back with two goals in a span of three minutes to finish the match in style. After the change of ends, Arabi regrouped and unsettled the Rayyan defence with a series of well-constructed raids in the last 10 minutes of the game. Their free-flowing game was rewarded quickly within minutes. First, new signing Venezuelan attacking midfielder Jeseu Manuel Meza restored parity through a penalty for Arabi in the 83rd minute after Mohamed Saleh was brought down in the box. Meza made no mistake with his left foot as he drove the penalty low and to the goalkeeper’s right for his first goal in Arabi colours. Two minutes later, Mohamed Saleh Khalfan extend the lead to 2-1 when his left-footer found its way into the back of the right-hand corner of the net. The Lions, who were playing without some of their top players, tried to score an equaliser in injury time but luck failed to oblige. “We knew we would face difficulties today as it was the first match of the season,” said Al Rayyan coach Diego Aguirre. Al Rayyan began and ended their last season with titles, but the much-desired QSL title slipped through their hands. The Sheikh Jassim Cup triumph set the perfect tone for Rayyan last year while the third Emir Cup success in four years underlined their status as one of the strong teams. “We lost against a good team in the first match of the season, but I think we played a good match and gave some young players a run out,” Aguirre said. Meza called it an “important win” for Arabi. “To win the opening match is always a confidence booster. This is the start of the season and we all hope for a better show in the coming days,” he said. Al Arabi’s new coach Uli Steilike was pleased with his team’s showing as he said, “It is a good win for us. We took control after conceding a goal and in the later part of the second half we were in total control. I’m happy with the result but would like to improve the performance in the coming matches.” - See more at: