Cazorla, Ayew on target as Al Sadd claim record 16th Qatar Stars League title

Former Premier League men Santi Cazorla and Andre Ayew were both on target as Al Sadd secured a record-extending 16th Qatar Stars League title on Monday evening with an emphatic 8-2 win over Al Ahli.

One-time Arsenal star Cazorla bagged his team's fourth in the 36th minute as Al Sadd raced to a 5-0 lead by the break, before Ayew -- who only joined the club from Swansea last July and also spent time in the English top flight with West Ham -- added a double in the second half.

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There was a further Premier League connection behind Al Sadd's success in the form of ex-Watford manager Javi Gracia, who took over at the helm in December following compatriot Xavi's departure to Barcelona.

The result sealed back-to-back titles for Al Sadd with four matches still to play as they now have an unassailable ten-point lead over closest challengers Al Duhail, who have played a game more.

The Wolves' triumph also means they move further ahead in the QSL's all-time champions ranking, with their 16th crown eight more than the next best in Al Rayyan.

Despite their domestic dominance, and the fact they are widely regarded as one of Asian football's powerhouses, the pressure will be on Gracia to lead the club to success on the continental stage when the AFC Champions League returns in April.

Having last been crowned champions of Asia in 2011, success in the ACL has since eluded Al Sadd and even with the presence of the legendary Xavi -- initially as a player and then manager -- the best they could achieve was a couple of consecutive semifinal appearances between 2018-19.

Al Sadd even suffered the ignominy of a group-stage exit from the competition last season, and Gracia will be aware that a repeat in 2022 will be viewed as a failure.