Doha, 7 January 2024 - Umm Salal defeated Al Arabi 3-1 in penalty shoot-out to be crowned the 2023-2024 season Ooredoo Cup champions at the Grand Hamad Stadium of Al Arabi club after the regular time of the final ended in a 4-4 draw.
Andy Delort (seventh minute), Ilyes Hamid (37th minute), Marouane Louadni (42nd minute) and Ali Afif (90th minute) scored for Umm Salal in regular time, while Omar Al Somah (45+11 minute penalty and 80th minute), Ibrahim Nasser Kalla (49th minute) and Salem Reda (75th minute) were on target for Al Arabi.
Umm Salal thus won the Ooredoo Cup in their third attempt.
After a couple of missed chances, captain Delort opened the scoring for Umm Salal in the seventh minute after nodding home a corner kick by Khaled Mansour from an unmarked position to give them a much-needed early lead. Despite a clearance by Al Arabis Yousef Muftah, the goal had to stay as the ball had clearly crossed the line.
With a goal down, the Dream Team began to increase pressure on Umm Salal and they had a couple of chances that were unfortunately not converted.
Umm Salal suffered an injury blow when Delort was stretchered off. He was replaced by Nasser Al Nasr in the 25th minute.
Undeterred by the early exit of their captain, Umm Salal continued to maintain their composure as they went in search of consolidating their lead while keeping Al Arabi at bay from encroaching into their territory.
Their efforts paid off in the 37th minute, with Hamid adding the second after finishing off an overlapping run by Abdullah Khaled Sheikh with a cool right-footed shot that ended up in the bottom right-hand corner of Al Arabi goalkeeper Amir Hassans net, much to the consternation of Al Arabi fans, who were witnessing a seemingly home loss.
When it rains, it definitely pours as Al Arabis woes were further compounded, with Loudani scoring a fantastic right-footed scissor kick from a headed pass by Hamid to make it three for Umm Salal. The goal was, however, contested by Al Arabi, who alleged an offside in its build-up, but after a lengthy VAR check, it was made to stay.
With pressure boiling over on the Al Arabi side, their situation turned from bad to worse in the 44th minute as they were reduced to 10 men after Ahmed Moein was given the marching orders.
Due to the series of on-field events, the first half witnessed a lengthy added time, which somehow played out in favour of Al Arabi as they were able to reduce the deficit with virtually the last kick of the half, with Al Somah scoring from the spot deep into injury time.
Al Arabi made a double substitution at halftime, with Ibrahim Kalla coming in for Mohammed Hassan Al Taabouni and Salem Reda replacing captain Yousef Muftah.
The substitutions apparently paid off as the second half turned out to be a different ball game entirely, with Al Arabi firing on all cylinders despite being a man down. It took them just four minutes into the half to score their second goal of the night through substitute Kalla, who was well-positioned to fire home a right-footed shot from Abdulrahman Al Deri's cross from the left to reduce the deficit to just one goal.
With increasing pressure on Umm Salal, their defence finally gave in in the 75th minute, with substitute Salem Reda restoring parity for Al Arabi following an assist by Rafinha Alcantara to bring the game back on.
Al Arabi sensationally turned the game on its head in the 80th minute, with Al Somah netting his brace of the night with a powerful header off a corner kick from Helal Mohammed to give his team, who was in superb form for most of the second half, the lead.
With the game seemingly going the way of Al Arabi, Afif, who replaced Abdullah Khaled Sheikh in the 79th minute, brought the roof down with his equaliser just at the stroke of regular time to restore parity for Umm Salal.
Afif almost added a brace, which could have likely ended the game in regular time had he been able to get his head to the dying-minute cross from the left by Hamid.
Luck, however, smiled again at Umm Salal during the penalty shootout, with the team scoring three out of their four kicks while Al Arabi were able to score only one.