Thursday 28 August 2014
Qatar Stars League
Al-Gharafa 2-2 Al-Arabi
For the second week running, Miku did not feature. Given that he has not played competitive football since April and all of the forwards called up into Sanvicente’s national squad except Salomón Rondón have not been starting (let alone scoring) regularly for their clubs, fans may well be wondering where the goals will come from in the upcoming friendlies against South Korea and Japan.
Nevertheless, watched by an attendance that would have shamed a Ryman League side, Al-Gharafa took an early lead, went behind before the break, then scored a penalty just after the hour and played the remainder of the match against ten men but could not get the decisive goal. Despite the several doubtlessly well-paid foreign stars on show, it was the home-grown Abdulghani Munir who made the break-through after six minutes, poking in what is believed to be his first-ever senior goal. Al-Arabi, managed by Dan Petrescu of plucky pre-Roman Chelsea fame, struck back with the strike partnership of the Brazilian Paulinho, recently acquired from Livorno and Imoh Ezekiel, an up-and-coming Nigerian who had been banging them in for Standard Liège, combining for both goals. For the first, Ezekiel crossed in from the left edge of the box with his right-foot for Paulinho to head home, whereas the second was a less straightforward affair as chaos and confusion in the Al-Gharafa back-line led to Paulinho, clearly controlling the loose ball with his left arm, nudging the ball through three hapless defenders to Ekeziel who tapped it in for Al-Arabi to take the lead after 27 minutes.
Al-Gharafa got back on level terms just after the hour when the referee evened things up by awarding a penalty to the home side after a foul on Munir by Mohammed Salem which was clearly outside of the area and for which the latter received a second yellow card. Former PSG striker Nenê converted the penalty but could not force a winner against Petrescu’s ten men, who also featured former Swansea defender Pablo Hernández as well as ex-Fulham player and spearhead of Iran’s World Cup counter-attack, Ashkan Dejagah, who came on as a late substitute.