Doha: A hugely dramatic fourth day of football at the LFP - Aspire Challenge tournament yesterday saw 10 penalties, four red-cards, and huge disappointment as the tournament’s two Qatari teams failed to overcome their Spanish La Liga opponents.
With hundreds of spectators sat in the stands to cheer along their favoured team, kicking off the first of six games yesterday was a thrilling all-Spanish encounter between La Liga giants Malaga and Sevilla.
Sevilla won 2-0.
Playing simultaneously were Schools United, a team of Qatari schoolboys, and La Liga side Sporting de Gijon.
The Spaniards won 2-1.
After the Schools United match, local fans were then dealt a further disappointment in the next match between the Aspire Academy and Spanish team Villareal. Superb from the get-go, Villareal went ahead after just 26 seconds after a brilliant lone effort from Manuel Arino.
Only 15 minutes later and the young Spanish striker then recorded his second of the game after chesting down a lobbed-pass in the air, running into the Aspire box and aiming a drilled shot straight into the bottom left corner.
Soon after and things just went from bad to worse for Aspire with Villareal’s Luis Daschner able to score his sides third of the match on 26 minutes.
Then, adding insult to injury just before half-time, Villareal got their fourth with an excellent lobbed shot from Ivan Nunez.
Sadly, after this excellent first-half of football, the second-half was mired in controversy with two red-cards awarded to Aspire Academy and a further red card awarded to Villareal that meant a bitter taste left in the mouth of both teams and the final result 4-0. Other games yesterday included a 4-4 thriller between La Liga sides Celta de Vigo and Espanyol Barcelona. With an equaliser in the last minute from Celta’s Alvaro Otero, the game was eventually settled on penalties in Celta’s favour after the Spanish side scored all five of their spot-kicks and Espanyol just four.
Meanwhile current La Liga leaders Atletico Madrid were able to book a place in the tournament final with a hard-fought 1-0 victory over Group C leaders Valencia. Scoring the game’s only goal was Madrid defender Jose Sabater with a towering header from a set-piece.
The final result means that Atletico will now go up against Villareal in the hotly-anticipated Gold Final today.