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Akram Afif hat-trick helps Al Sadd beat Al Gharafa 5-1

Doha, Qatar: Akram Afif scored a hat-trick as Al Sadd shrugged off their FIFA Club World Cup disappointments and thrashed Al Gharafa 5-1 in the Qatar Stars League on Monday.

Baghdad Bounedjah opened the scoring right at the start with a beautiful goal while two penalties – scored by Akram Afif and Hassan Al Haydos – gave Sadd a 3-0 lead at half time.

Afif scored two more in the second half to complete his hat-trick as Sadd announced that they were back in the title hunt.

But it won't be easy for Sadd as Al Duhail continued their scintillating run with a 3-0 victory against Al Ahli.

Goals from Youssef Msakni and Ismael Mohamed gave Duhail a 2-0 in the first half while a penalty from Almoez Ali in the 86th minute made sure of the three points.

Duhail lead the table with 29 points, four ahead of second-placed Al Rayyan.  

Sadd, with 18 points from nine games, are fourth in the table while Gharafa are third on 20 from 11 games.

Sadd had lost 2-6 to Tunisian side Esperance Sportive de Tunis in the fifth-place play-off at the Club World Cup last week, but they showed no ill effects of that demoralising defeat.

That Gharafa were particularly ordinary also helped them.

The Wolves needed just two minutes to take the lead as Bounedjah nutmegged Al Mahdi Ali on the left and found the target with a measured shot past an advancing Qasem Burhan.

Xavi Hernandez's men increased the lead in the 12th minute when Bounedjah was fouled by Yousuf Muftah inside the box and referee Abdulhadi Al Samar pointed to the spot.

Afif took the kick and easily beat Burhan.

Gharafa had a chance right away, but Ahmed Alaaeldin's shot was weak and straight at goalkeeper Saad Al Sheeb.

Moayad Hassan had another chance to put Gharafa back in the game in the 26th and his shot was saved by Al Sheeb with some difficulty.

But Sadd scored their third from another penalty in the 32nd minute and all but ended the match as a contest.

Afif was again involved in the goal as he proved too fast for Tameem Mohammed who had to commit a foul to stop him outside the box.

Though Al Haydos' freekick hit the wall Sadd were awarded a penalty after a VAR referral confirmed that the ball had hit Guedioura Adlane's arm.

Bounedjah's initial penalty was saved by Qarem Burhan, but VAR intervened again as the goalkeeper had advanced before the kick was taken and the referee stopped play and allowed Sadd to retake the penalty.

Al Haydos took it the second time and had the audacity to beat Burhan with a panenka.

Alaaeldin had another chance in the first half but he fired his shot over the bar.

Sadd made sure of the three points in the 51st minute as Afif combined with Boualem Khoukhi to score the fourth.

And the Asian Player of the Year completed his hat-trick in the 72nd minute with another neat finish.

Sofiane Hanni pulled one back for Gharafa, a long-range stunner, it was too little too late for Gharafa.

In another match on Monday, Al Shahania and Al Khor played of a 2-2 draw.


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