Doha: Baghdad Bounedjah scored four goals, his 10th in five matches, and Jugurtha Hamroun helped himself with one as Al Sadd defeated Al Ahli 5-0 to keep pace with leaders Al Duhail in the QNB Stars League on Sunday.
Sadd, who take on Duhail in the top-of-the-table clash next week, now have 46 points from 18 matches, just two behind the reigning champions.
Keeping in mind next week's heavyweight clash, coach Jesualdo Ferreira left regular starters Pedro Miguel, captain Xavi Hernandez and Boualem Khoukhi on the substitutes' bench at the start, but Sadd simply had too much firepower for Ahli.
Sadd's supremacy was all too apparent as Bounedjah opened the scoring in the fifth minute with a nonchalant finish when a loose ball fell kindly for him after a routine attack was half stopped by Ahli defence.
Bounedjah, who only recently returned from a calf injury, is in terrific form having scored doubles against both Al Wasl and Persepolis in the AFC Champions League, and there is every reason for Duhail to be wary of his menacing presence.
Sadd were working the ball beautifully and a fluent move involving slick passing from Hamroun and a backheel from Bounedjah saw Akrim Afif unleash a curler, but Ahli keeper Yazan Naim was equal to the task diving to his right to make the save.
Ahli managed to hold on after that and at times even managed to make Ferreira nervous with their attacking in the in the first half.
Ferreira, not happy to take too much of a risk, brought in Xavi Hernandez and Boualem Khoukhi in place of Ali Asad and Yassir Abubakar at halftime.
Xavi almost instantly made his presence felt when he crashed a freekick onto the post after Hamad Ismael was fouled just outside the area.
Bounedjah doubled his tally in the 55th minute when he connected Abdulkarim Hassan's cross from the left to perfection. Though Naim got a hand to it, the Algerian striker's effort had too much power as it nestled inside the net.
Bounedjah completed his hattrick after beautifully fed by Jugurtha Hamroun in the 75th minute. As Sadd exercised total domination over their rivals, Bounedjah made it four for himself and his team after picking his spot and burying the ball there in the 81st minute.
Hamroun completed the rout in the added time slotting home the ball to make it 5-0.