Al-Sadd ended their 2019-20 QNB Stars League campaign with a 1-1 draw against Al-Gharafa in the Round 22 clash which was played at Al-Janoub Stadium on Thursday.
Al-Gharafa took the lead through Ahmed Alaa’s 65th minute goal, before Akram Afif equalised from the penalty spot in the 91st minute, having missed another penalty moments earlier. The game saw Al-Gharafa defender Almahdi Ali get sent off in the 77th minute for a dangerous challenge, while their coach Slavisa Jokanovic was also shown the red card for arguing with the officials in stoppage time.
The result means Al-Sadd will end this season occupying third position in the league table with 45 points.
The match got off to an intense start, with both sides looking for an early breakthrough. Al-Gharafa looked to capitalise on an error from Meshaal Barsham in the 5th minute, but Sofiane Hanni’s shot flew over the crossbar. A few minutes later, Baghdad Bounedjah went clear on goal at the other end, but the referee blew his whistle for offside.
Al-Sadd’s next big opportunity came in the 24th minute, when Bahaa El-Leithy and Ahmed Sayyar passed the ball around well before it reached Bounedjah, who sent in a great cross towards Yusuf Abdurisag. The goal was empty but Yusuf was unable to control the ball and the chance went begging. Afif then had a go at goal which was saved by the Al-Gharafa keeper Salah Zakaria.
In the second half, Al-Sadd kept pushing for an opening, with Afif and Yusuf on the wings, and the duo of Tabata and Sayyar looking to make an incision from deep. Right-back Musab Kheder went up and sent in a cross aimed at Bounedjah in the 58th minute, but Zakaria was once again in the right spot to clear the danger.
Xavi Hernandez made a double substitution in the 64th minute, sending on Hassan Al-Haydos and Nam Tae-hee in place of Tabata and Sayyar, to try and change things. A minute later, against the run of play, Al-Gharafa took the lead. After a scramble in the box, the Al-Sadd defence failed to clear the ball and Ahmed Alaa was able to finish past Meshaal Barsham to give his side a 1-0 lead.
The setback spurred Al-Sadd into pushing forward and increasing the pressure on the Al-Gharafa goal, but even with the fresh legs, it was proving to be difficult. Afif cleverly played the ball through to Bounedjah in the 84th minute, but Salah Zakaria came out to deny the Wolves a deserved goal.
Finally, Al-Sadd won a penalty when Afif was fouled in the box in the 86th minute. However, the forward saw his effort rebound off the bar and go out. A second chance arrived a few minutes later, when Hanni was adjudged to have handled the ball in the box. This time, Afif made no mistake and scored his 15th goal of the season to go top of the scorers chart.
The full time whistle came soon after, as Al-Sadd run of four victories came to an end in their final game of the season.
Al-Sadd x Al-Gharafa (QNB Stars League Round 22)
Al-Sadd: Meshaal Barsham, Musab Kheder, Abdelkarim Hassan, Bahaa El-Leithy (Tarek Salman), Pedro Miguel, Ahmed Sayyar (Hassan Al-Haydos, Jung Woo-young, Rodrigo Tabata (Nam Tae-hee), Yusuf Abdurisag, Akram Afif, Baghdad Bounedjah
Al-Gharafa: Salah Zakaria, Saeed Al-Haj, Almahdi Ali, Moayad Hassan, Yousuf Muftah, Koo Ja-cheol, Ahmed Alaa, Hector Moreno (Othman Al Yahri), Homam Al Amin, Jonathan Kodjia, Sofiane Hanni
Ahmed Alaa 65′
Akram Afif 90+1′ (P)
Koo Ja-cheol 26′
Almahdi Ali 77′ (red card)
Saoud Al-Athba (Main referee)
Saoud Ahmed (Linesman)
Faisal Al-Shammari (Linesman)
Mohammed Nasser (Fourth official)