Doha, 5 September 2020 - efending champions Al Duhail got their 2020-21 season off to a cracking start, drubbing Umm Salal 3-0 in the QNB Stars League yesterday at the Education City Stadium.
Luis Martin (fifth minute), Mohamed Muntari (36th minute) and substitute Ali Afif (90+3) scored for The Red Knights as Al Duhail served early notice of their intentions after having won their seventh title last month, edging Al Rayyan by one point.
In terms of creating scoring opportunities particularly, Al Duhail dominated Umm Salal, who put up a brave fight in the game after conceding two first-half goals. However, The Orange Fortress conceded a late goal as well.
Al Duhail had two new faces in Eduardo Rodriguez (Dudu) and Ramin Rezaeian, who switched from relegated side Al Shahania. Overall, their players more than made up for the absences of injured key players like Edmilson Junior, Karim Boudiaf, Yousef Msakni and Bassam al-Rawi.
After Muntari tested Umm Salal goalkeeper Baba Malick, Luis Martin put Al Duhail in the lead with a long-range left-footer. Captain Almoez Ali set him up after Luis Martin played a one-two with him following Baba Malick’s clearance.
The second goal came when Muntari rose high to head in Rezaeian’s measured cross from the right.
For Umm Salal, Yannick Sagbo and Walid Mesloub led the challenge and the former sent a wayward shot as the first half drew to a close.
Umm Salal showed alacrity in the second session and Sagbo linked up with Kesse Amanguao, who also joined them from Al Shahania, in the 50th minute, but the former could not control the ball properly and skied a shot.
Umm Salal’s Lawrence Quaye’s beaming shot in the 67th minute was blocked by Al Duhail goalkeeper Khalifa Abubacker.
Al Duhail sealed the issue, when Ali Afif, who came off the bench for Dudu, gave finishing touches to his own effort off a counter-attack.
The first two league matches are good preparations for Al Duhail ahead of their campaign in the 2020 AFC Champions League, which will resume soon with all West Zone matches being scheduled in Doha.
Umm Salal, who finished in the 10th position in the 2019-20 season after staring at relegation and even occupying the bottom of the table at one stage, had reinforced the squad in the new season, but that was not enough for them in front of the might of Al Duhail.