Al Rayyan entered the Emir’s Cup final with a 2-1 victory over Al Sadd in an exciting clash at the Thani Bin Jassim stadium in Al Gharafa yesterday.
Having seen off last year’s champions Al Gharafa in the quarter-finals, Al Rayyan continued their giant-killing act to stun 13-times champions Al Sadd with goals from Imad al-Hosni and Younis Ali. Hassan al-Haydos found the target for Al Sadd.
Al Sadd made a confident start, springing forward from the onset with captain Felipe Jorge, Talal al-Bloushi, Mohammed Kasola working hard in the midfield.
And Ali Afif and Mesad al-Hamad, making their runs from left and right flanks, kept pressure on Al Rayyan defense.
In the 13th minute, Felipe’s free kick found Afif inside the box but the striker sent his header wide.
After first 15 minutes, the match developed into an exciting affair as Al Rayyan began to venture more often into Al Sadd territory. Yet coach Cosmin Olaruoi’s side looked the one more likely to score first.
In the 33rd minute, Felipe curled in his flag kick but Al Rayyan goalkeeper Omar Barry blocked the shot and gathered a Majed Mohammed shot off the rebound.
Al Rayyan coach Paulo Autuori’s decision to throw on Imad al-Hosni just after the half-hour mark. And the Omani striker made his presence felt to put them 1-0 ahead in the 39th minute.
Breaking off an Al Sadd attack, Al Rayyan drove forward and Brazilian striker Afonso Alves rasped in a shot from the edge of the area. Although Al Sadd goalkeeper Mohammed Saqr managed to block the shot, the ball landed in front of the surging al-Hosni, who sent the ball into the empty net.
Al Sadd had another chance to finish the first half at level terms but Ali Afif shot wide of the far post two minutes from half time.
Al Rayyan went quickly into assault on the restart as Meshal Mubarak keeping Al Sadd rearguard busy with his runs from the left flank.
And in the 53rd minute, Al Sadd paid the heavy price for giving away too much room outside the area as Younis Ali fired a stunning shot from 25 yards beat goalkeeper Saqr for a 2-0 lead.
Al Sadd brought on Khalfan Ibrahim on the hour-mark and the soon the traffic began to flow into one direction – towards the Al Rayyan goal.
Al Sadd created a couple of chances in the 67th minute but the woodwork came to Al Rayyan’s rescue, with Khalfan at the receiving end on both occasions.
But four minutes on, their sustained effort paid off when al-Haydos scored to bring Al Sadd back into the game. Defender Ibrahim Majid headed a cross from al-Hamad into the box and al-Haydos shot into the roof of the net to make it 2-1.
Then in the 74th minute, Al Rayyan had a chance to kill off the game when Hamad Ismail picked out Alves inside the box only to see the Brazilian send his header wide.
Al Sadd continued to surge forward with al-Hamad and Khalfan combining to deadly effect. But Khalfan spurned chances for an equaliser in the 78th and 83rd minutes. And the Al Rayyan defence led by Brazilian Marcelo Tabarez kept their cool, stifling Al Sadd flair in the final 10 minutes to secure their place in the May 15 final.
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