Al Gharafa inflicted a 1-0 defeat on Al Arabi in the highlight fixture of Week 7 of the 2019-20 QNB Stars League at the Al Arabi Stadium on Sunday.
Sofiane Hanni scored the all-important goal in the 51st minute.
The ball possession was almost even and the match lived up to expectations, with respective fans cheering the teams on.
Slavisa Jokanovic-coached Al Gharafa, with their fourth win, now have 14 points, one more than Al Arabi who thus crashed to their first defeat in this season’s QNB Stars League.
However, Al Arabi coached by Icelander Heimir Hallgrimsson, have the advantage of having played one game less since their Week 5 fixture against Al Sadd, dubbed the Qatar Derby, was deferred due to the latter’s AFC Champions League commitment.
Al Arabi’s new recruit from Iceland, Birkir Bjarnason, made his debut as his compatriot and fellow midfielder Aron Gunnarsson, nursing an injury, watched from the stands.
The Al Arabi goal had a close call in the 19th minute as Jassem Jaber, attempting to clear a Muad Hassan cross from the left, headed the ball accidentally into his own post. However, goalkeeper Gregory Gomis collected the rebound from the cross-piece without fail.
Al Gharafa earned a penalty in the first half, but Ahmed Alaaeldin hit his shot against the horizontal and he could not connect the rebound either.
Al Arabi created more opportunities in a barren opening session, with their top scorer and Tunisian striker Hamdi Harbaoui being the spearhead. Mohamed Salah El Neel headed a free-kick goalbound, but the ball hit Al Gharafa goalkeeper Qasem Burhan.
The second half started and it was Al Gharafa who surged ahead. Hanni was on hand to place the ball home after Gomis fumbled in collecting a cross from the left by Othman Al Yahri, much to the dismay of home fans.
Al Arabi made desperate attempts at the goal in their bid to equalise and Pierre Lassoga came up with a dropping header, but the ball went wide of the mark.