CHAMPIONS Al Rayyan returned to winning ways by defeating promoted side Al Shahaniya 1-0 at the Al Arabi Stadium on Tuesday.
Midfielder Ahmed Alaaeldin headed home Abdulkarim Ali’s cross in the 12th minute for his side’s seventh win.
Rayyan, who missed striker Sebastian Soria and midfielder Daniel Goumou due to bookings, struggled inside the rival box.
They missed plenty of chances, including two sitters spurned by captain Rodrigo Tabata. Shahaniya’s stand-in goalkeeper Jassim Adel had a great memorable game and came in for special praise from Rayyan coach Michael Laudrup.
“The win was important. It fetched us three points, but I must praise the efforts of Shahaniya goalkeeper. He had a great game and denied us a big win. He was simply outstanding,” said Laudrup.
The Dane was upset with the team’s poor finishing.
“We controlled the game from start to end, but missed a lot of opportunities. This has been the story of Rayyan so far in the season. We always fail to capitalise on our chances. That’s something we must overcome,” added Laudrup.
Tabata, who had scored a hat-trick when the teams met in the first phase in September, was far from impressive. In a one-on-one situation, Adel blocked his shot in the 84th. The 36-year-old attacking midfielder then failed to tap home in injury time before Mohannad Adnan made a goal-line clearance.
For Shahaniya, who suffered a humiliating 0-10 drubbing against Lekhwiya in their previous match, this was a much improved effort under new coach Igor Stimac.
The Croat was impressed with his team’s fighting spirit and expressed confidence that they would do well in the next matches.
“I’ve tried my best to prepare a squad which can challenge the top sides, particularly after the heavy defeat against Lekhwiya. Had we converted three chances in the first half, we could’ve finished off the game,” said Stimac.
In another match, Umm Salal beat Al Khor 2-1.
Umm Salal, who lost to Al Arabi 1-3 in their last match, took the lead through Ivorian striker Yannick Sagbo in the 12th minute. Former Khor player Hilal Mohammed added the second in the 44th while Sultan Al Enezi pulled one back for Jose Fernandez’s side in the 58th.
Al Sailiya also notched up full points after beating Arabi 1-0, thanks to an eighth-minute goal by Mohammed Muddather.