Doha, Qatar: Algerian striker Baghdad Bounedjah smashed a hat-trick while Qatar star Akram Afif scored a brace as Al Sadd trounced Al Ahli 9-1 to move closer to the Expo Stars League (ESL) crown yesterday.

Al Rayyan also gained from their rescheduled clash against Qatar SC, clinching a dominant 3-0 victory to jump to second on the points table.

At the Al Thumama Stadium, Afif opened the floodgates in the third minute slotting a left-footed hit in the centre after an assist from Gonzalo Plata. Yousuf Abdurisag (32nd minute) and Guilherme Torres (35th minute) extended the lead before Al Ahli pulled one back through Sekou Yansane in 45th minute.

A 50th minute red card to Idrissa Doumbia cost Al Ahli dearly as the Wolves registered six more goals in the second half.

Afif, the leading scorer in the current ESL season, took his tally to 25 goals with an angular strike in 56th minute before Al Ahli’s Mohammed Abdulla Al Ishaq put the ball into his own net while trying to block Ahmed Suhail’s cross from the right three minutes later.

Bounedjah scored his first goal of the match in 69th minute and added two more in 80th and 90+5 minutes after Ilyes Housni scored in 75th minute.

A victory against Al Shamal next Wednesday will seal a record-extending 17th title in the top flight for Al Sadd with one match to spare. They are five points clear of Al Rayyan and Al Gharafa, who are on 41 points each.

At Suhaim Bin Hamad Stadium, Al Rayyan also produced a fine performance after benefitting from a sixth-minute own goal by Qatar SC’s Ibrahim Majid.

Rodrigo Moreno doubled their lead in ninth minute while Achraf Bencharki’s low drive in the left corner gave the Lions much-needed goal that took them above Al Gharafa with one-goal difference as Qatar SC stayed 10th with 19 points. Al Rayyan will meet Al Ahli in their Round 21 match.

Earlier, defending champions Al Duhail registered a commanding 5-2 victory over relegation-threatened Muaither with Michael Olunga scoring a brace with strikes in eighth and 80th minute at Grand Hamad Stadium.

Almoez Ali (40’), Philippe Coutinho (46’) and Rashid Abdulaziz Al Abdulla (89’) were also on target for the Red Knights, who lost to Shabab Al Ahli 2-1 in the UAE-Qatar Super Shield in Dubai on Saturday.

Hugo Gomes (23’) and Ayman El Hassouni (42’) scored goals for Muaither, who are level on 14 points with bottom-placed Al Markhiya.

The victory put Al Duhail on fifth in the standings with 28 points as Al Arabi slipped to sixth after a 1-2 loss to Umm Salal at Thani Bin Jassim Stadium yesterday.

Oussama Tannane scored the winner for the Orange Fortress in 84th minute after Kenji Gorre had brought the side back into the match with an equaliser in 63rd minute. Mohamed Taabouni had given Al Arabi the lead in 23rd minute.

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