Al Gharafa and Al Duhail played out an entertaining goalless draw in Week 17 of the QNB Stars League on Saturday.
However, the result dented a blow to Al Duhail’s bid to retain the title as they suffered their fourth draw to lag behind leaders Al Sadd.
Al Duhail moved to 40 points and Al Gharafa 19.
Al Gharafa started off briskly and earned a corner kick soon after the start, only to see Ahmed Alaaeldin head the ball straight to goalkeeper Amine Lecomte off a kick taken by Abdulaziz Hatem.
However, it was Al Duhail who had more chances and ball possession once they settled down. While captain Karim Boudiaf sent a wayward shot, new Japanese recruit Shoya Nakajima and team’s top scorer Yousef El Arabi came close to scoring with their attempts.
Qatar’s Asian Cup triumph fame Bassam Al Rawi almost put Al Duhail in the lead when he sent a free-kick slightly over the bar as the first half drew to a close.
Al Gharafa were more in the game in the second half and Alaaeldin tested Lecomte with a powerful, rising shot from top of the box around the hour mark.
Al Duhail, in their bid to intensify the attack, brought in Ali Afif in place of Luis Martin and then Paolo Edmilson replaced striker Mohammed Muntari.
The move looked fruitful as Edmilson found the net in the 70th minute off a counter-attack, but referee Abdulhadi Al Ruaile ruled the goal offside after referring to Video Assistant Referee.
Ali Afif came up with a feeble shot and Edmilson beat goalkeeper Yousef Hassan, who had a good game, in the 86th minute, but Al Gharafa defender Ilyas Ahmed saved the ball at the goalline.
Al Duhail’s new signing and Moroccan defender Mehdi Benatia then headed the ball straight to the goalkeeper off a corner kick in the 90th minute as the stalemate continued at the Al Gharafa Stadium.
Edmilson was more enterprising as Nakajima and El Arabi both had a subdued game.
The result was a big consolation for Al Gharafa, who had lost to Umm Salal in the previous round.