Doha, 10 December 2023 - Baghdad Bounedjah scripted a hat-trick as Al Sadd defeated a 10-man Al Rayyan 4-0 in the high-profile, much-awaited Qatar Clasico in Week 11 of the 2023-2024 season Expo Stars League at the Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium of Al Sadd club.
The Algerian striker got his goals in the 46th, 75th and 83rd minutes, with Gonzalo Plata adding his own in the 53rd minute of the top-of-the-bill encounter, the QSL website reported.
Al Sadd, with two matches still to play, now have 25 points, while Al Rayyan remained on 19 points.
As expected, the Qatar Clasico had all the ingredients of a top-notch game of its kind with the adrenaline rush felt both on and off the field, and the crowded stands gave a significant boost to what was going on, on the field with their massive support for their respective teams.
The match started on a sour note for Al Rayyan, with Rodrigo Moreno getting the marching orders in the ninth minute of play for a foul on Al Sadd's Pedro Miguel.
The decision, taken after a VAR review with Moreno initially awarded a yellow card, left a bad taste in the mouths of the teeming Al Rayyan fans as they massively registered their protest, but to no avail.
Undaunted by their predicament, Al Rayyan kept their heads high as they took the game to their opponents' backyard with a series of goal attempts spearheaded by Achraf Bencharki and Bassam Al Rawi, but the heroics of Al Sadd goalkeeper Meshaal Barsham kept them at bay from producing the opening goal.
Al Sadd began to get their groove on, with the first half crossing the halfway mark as they began to launch a series of attacks of their own, seemingly taking advantage of their superior headcount, with Akram Afif orchestrating things upfront, and Bounedjah and Plata providing the needed support.
Despite several attempts from both sides, the first half of the highly-entertaining encounter ended without producing any goals.
Al Sadd came back for the second half very much on fire with Hassan Al Haydous, who missed a goal attempt immediately on resumption, making up for his miss by providing a superb one-touch assist for Bounedjah's opening goal in the 46th minute.
When it rains, it definitely pours, as Al Sadd only had to wait for just six more minutes to record their second goal, with Plata taking advantage of Al Rayyan goalkeeper Fahad Younes being out of position in an attempt to arrange his wall to fire home a quick free-kick to the bottom left corner in the 52nd minute.
Desperate to strengthen their midfield and curtail Al Sadd's rampage as much as possible, Al Rayyan substituted Osama Al Tairi for Brazil's Gabriel Pereira in the 62nd minute, but the substitution had no effect on Al Sadd as Bounedjah got his brace, and Al Sadd's third, in the 75th minute with a well-taken low left-footed shot from the right side of the box, after some fanciful legwork, from another Al Haydous assist following a corner kick.
Bounedjah completed his hat-trick and took Al Sadd four goals ahead in the 83rd minute, firing home a left-footed banger following a cross from Afif to further compound the woes of Al Rayyan. The goal was initially disputed by Al Rayyan, but was allowed to stand after a VAR check.
With his work done for the night, Bounedjah left the field in the 89th minute to a standing ovation from Al Sadd supporters after being substituted for young Ahmad Al Saeed.
Al Rayyan's hopes of at least a consolation goal were further dashed in four minutes of added time as Al Rawi's right-footed shot from the centre of the box went inches wide to the right.
That happened to be the last attempt from The Lions as they were tamed by The Wolves by four unreplied goals in yet another famous Qatar Clasico.