Al Arabi twice came from behind and snatched a last-minute equaliser to finish 2-2 in a frenetic finale against Al Wakrah in the second of Friday’s Week 9 2019-20 QNB Stars League fixtures.
Mohammed Salah El Neel (68th minute) and Birkir Bjarnason (90+6) were on the scoresheet for Al Arabi, with Al Wakrah having scored through Mohammed Waad Al Bayati in the 40th minute and Mohamed Benyettou (90th-minute penalty) at the Al Arabi Stadium.
Both teams came into the match short of confidence on the back of recent costly results and this reflected in the hesitant early exchanges as they looked to ease their way in.
Of the two sides, it was Al Arabi who had the best of the play. However, they were unable to break the deadlock. They had multiple chances, firstly a cross which evaded everybody in the penalty area and hit the post, before a Bjarnason free-kick was saved, and El Neel’s far-post header did not trouble the keeper too much.
Al Wakrah started to counter and their presence in the opposition half became more incisive as the game grew. They were rewarded for their efforts when Al Bayati received the ball near the halfway line, advanced forward and, lacking other options, launched a fantastic left-footed drive from distance that flew past Gregory Gomis in goal and into the far corner of the goal.
They came close to a second before the half was out when Benyettou struck another shot from distance but, this time, it went the wrong side of the post.
The second half started much like the first as Al Wakrah did their best to protect an important lead. Their defensive discipline finally came undone when Pierre-Michelle Lasogga’s through ball found its way to El Neel, who outmuscled Ali Karami on the edge of the area before sliding the ball past goalkeeper Saoud Al Khater to level the scores.
At this point, Al Arabi were very much in the ascendency and nearly grabbed the lead when Hamdi Harbaoui turned on the volley, but could not keep his shot down.
Al Wakrah seemed to have sealed the points when Hossam Kamal upended Ismail Mahmoud in the penalty area and Benyettou stepped up to fire home the penalty on the stroke of 90 minutes.
There was still time for drama though as six minutes into injury time, former Aston Villa player Bjarnason reacted quickest to Yousef’s corner to smash home an equaliser from close range and earn his side a well-deserved point.