Doha, – Al Gharafa were beaten by Umm Salal 0-2 at home in the first of Sunday’s Round 24 QSL fixtures.
Al Gharafa, who recently parted ways with their head coach Pedro Caixinha after he headed for Rangers FC, were desperate to claim a vital three points in their aim to close the gap on El Jaish and finish the 2016/17 season in the top four. They instead left empty handed thanks to two clever counter attacking goals from Umm Salal.
The first half provided very little in the way of clear cut chances, with the majority of play focusing in midfield and both teams hesitant to fully commit in the search of an opener. Despite Gharafa looking the better side for the first 45 minutes and claiming the greater share of possession, they were not able to really test Umm Salal’s goalkeeper and bar a poor back-pass nearly resulting in a chance for the Cheetahs early on, they created very little.
The second half was a livelier affair, with both teams stepping up a gear in the search for an opening goal. With 73 minutes on the clock, Umm Salal’s big number 13 Yannick Sagbo broke the deadlock to bag his twelfth goal of the season and give the Orange Fortress the lead against the run of play. Gharafa had been pressing deep in Umm Salal’s half but the men in orange countered and Sagbo was able to beat the offside trap and outmuscle Gharafa’s number 6, Abdulaziz Hatem, before hitting it with his right and nutmegging Gharafa’s goalkeeper to make it 1-0.
Al Gharafa continued to press and create chances and Vladimir Weiss caused Umm Salal’s defenders plenty of trouble down the right wing. With 86 minutes gone, Gharafa’s best chance of an equalizer fell to Mohamed Razaq, who should have scored with his head from a mere four yards out, and then South Korean number 8, Kooky Han should have poked home the rebound from just two yards out but instead put it wide of the post.
Gharafa continued to create chances but were once again undone by a clever counter attack from the Orange Fortress, Syrian international Mahmoud Al-Maas, running half the pitch and seeing off a backtracking Othman Alawi before coolly chipping it over the goalkeeper’s head at his near post.
With just two games left to play, Gharafa will need El Jaish to slip up if they hope to leapfrog them into fourth place. The three points however help further cement Umm Salal’s top six league finish, opening a five point gap over Al Kharaitiyat. (QNA)
Source: Qatar News Agency