Al Duhail bounced back from a goal down to defeat Umm Salal 3-1 in Week 19 of the QNB Stars League on Saturday.
Last two season’s league top scorer and Moroccan striker Yousef El Arabi (64th and 90+1 minutes) and substitute Mohammed Muntari (90+4) scored the goals for Al Duhail as the reigning champions kept pace with leaders Al Sadd, who beat Al Sailiya 2-0 in the day’s early kick-off, in the title race.
It was the 14th victory of The Red Knights, who dominated with 65 per cent ball possession and earned eight corner kicks compared to Umm Salal’s three.
Lawrence Quaye had put Umm Salal ahead in the 54th minute following a goalless first half, where both teams’ efforts did not fetch any goal.
Al Duhail now have 46 points, four less than Al Sadd, ahead of the heavyweight clash between them in the next round.
Umm Salal, who stayed on 20 points, thus crashed to their third successive defeat, and sixth this season. The Orange Fortress had lost to Al Kharaitiyat and Al Khor, both by a 0-1 margin, in the previous rounds.
Umm Salal took a surprise lead when Quaye capitalised on a goalmouth melee and resultant confusion for Al Duhail goalkeeper Amine Lecomte following a free-kick taken by Mahmoud Al Mawas from the left.
El Arabi drew Al Duhail level two minutes later, slotting home a swift cross by Paolo Edmilson from the right.
El Arabi was at it again in the first minute of added time as he found the net after Ali Afif did a brilliant spadework from the left.
Muntari, who came off the bench to replace Murad Naji in the 55th minute, then rounded off the tally right at the death.
Umm Salal had a penalty appeal ruled out by referee Salman Falahi, who referred to Video Assistant Referee, after Yannick Sagbo appeared to have been fouled by Ahmed Yasser.