Doha, Qatar: Al Sadd flirted with danger for a while before steering their way out of it after a brace from Baghdad Bounedjah gave them a 2-1 victory against Al Khor in the QNB stars League on Wednesday.
Sadd dominated large parts of the game but woeful shooting helped Khor stay in the match and they almost took advantage of it by cancelling out Bounedjah’s first half-goal through Diogo da Silva in the second period.
However, Bounedjah somehow found the winner late in the game to hand then invaluable three points.
After a promising start from Khor during which Diogo failed to grab his chance, Sadd took the lead when Bounedjah finished off Hassan Al Haydous’ beautiful cross with aplomb in the 16th minute.
It was the Algerian striker’s 22nd goal of the QSL Campaign and his 51st of the calendar year. He could have had a hat-trick in the next ten minutes, but he failed to get a proper connection with his header before sending his low shot of an Akram Afif cross marginally wide.
However, he could easily have been a villain for the Wolves when Diogo drew a foul from him inside his own box in the 27th for a penalty. Though it looked a highly contentious decision, it did not matter much as goalkeeper Saad Al Dossari saved Bounedjah’s blushes with a lovely stop, diving to the left to hold on to the Brazilian’s low effort.
Afif then missed a sitter for Sadd close to half-time, sending his shot agonisingly wide as he tried to beat an advancing goalkeeper Al Bakri.
Afif’s shooting woes continued even after the break, with the Qatari stiker sending easy shot above the bar with only Al Bakri to beat. Moments later he opted to back heel the ball inside Khor penalty area when thumping it into the net seemed the better option.
Soon it was Baghdad’s turn to miss a sitter after the striker rounded the keeper only for Khalid Radwan to make a goal-line clearance.
Boualem Khoukhi, who replaced Ahmed Sayyar at half time also failed to find the target from close range as Sadd kept on misfiring.
Sadd’s wastefulness in front of the goal was soon to be punished as Khor drew level in the 70th minute through Diogo, who hammered the ball past Al Dossari from a tight angle.
Sadd looked nervous all of a sudden and moments later Wagner drew a flying stop from Al Dossari with a thumping left-footer from outside the box.
With an injured Xavi Hernandez watching from the stands and Abdelkarim Hassan in Muscat where he was collecting the AFC Player of the Year award, Jesualdo Ferreira brought in South Korean Woo Young Jung for some inspiration as Sadd were frantically searching for a winner to keep their title fate in their own hands.
And Jung provided it in the 86th when he exchanged passes with Musab Kader and centred the ball for Bounedjah who headed into an empty net.
The win helped Sadd (29 points) cut the gap with leaders Al Duhail SC to five.
With two matches between them, there is still everything to play for.