TEN-man Al Sadd fought bravely, but it turned out to be a disappointing outing for them as they dropped to the second spot after a 1-1 draw against El Jaish at the Lekhwiya Stadium last week.
The Wolves are now on 31 points, two behind Lekhwiya, while Jaish remained third with 29 as the league took a short winter break.
Sadd’s Qatar international Hassan Al Haidous converted from the spot in the 32nd minute after Baghdad Bounedjah was brought down in the box by Jaish keeper Saoud Al Khater, but Sardor Rashidov equalised in the 43rd.
Sadd were down to 10 men in the 65th when Iranian international Morteza Pouraliganji was sent off after he received his second booking for a foul on Romarinho.
“The red card affected us as we were under pressure, but I’m happy we didn’t concede goals after that,” said Sadd coach Jesualdo Ferreira.
Sadd were impressive in patches, but they lacked the killer punch. They looked overconfident following their recent big wins against champions Al Rayyan, Umm Salal and Al Sailiya. In fact, if they are to win the league shield, which they last claimed in 2012-13 under Moroccan coach Housseine Amouta, Ferreira’s boys should avoid any sort of complacency.
“It was a difficult match against an opponent which had topped the standings through most part of the first phase. A win could’ve given us the top spot, but our forward line didn’t click because of a lack of speed. We missed a lot of opportunities in the first half that would’ve made the game safe,” added the Portuguese, who replaced Amouta at the end of 2014-15 season.
The Soldiers, who finished second behind Rayyan last season, endured a difficult end to the year as they had lost to Gharafa and Lekhwiya recently.
Jaish attackers Rashidov and Romarinho depended mainly on counter-attacks as it was not easy to outplay Xavi Hernandez & Co in the middle. Though the Uzbek international equalised after picking up a pass from Yasser Abubakr, they could not do much against Sadd’s resolute back-line despite enjoying the numerical advantage.
Jaish have showed constant promise after their entry into the top flight in 2012, but injury to key players and inconsistency had spoiled their chances in the last couple of seasons. They need to pull up their socks when the league resumes on January 3 to buck the worrying trend.