DUBAI // First the good news. For the first time in six matches, Al Wasl did not concede a goal in the opening three minutes of the second half. The bad news: they conceded twice in the proceeding five minutes and two more, including a penalty, before the final whistle to finish on the wrong side of an embarrassing 4-1 defeat to Al Ahli.
And compounding their miseries was Yaser Salem, who was sent off in the 86th minute after pulling down Luis Jimenez just outside the penalty area with the Chile international through on goal.
“The problem continues,” said Laurent Banide, the disgruntled Wasl coach.
“I don’t know what else to say. Again, we showed a lack of concentration in the early minutes of the second half and conceded a goal. After that goal, the team just fell part – tactically and the organisation. That goal affected the morale of the team and our performance fell drastically.”
Wasl had suffered a similar meltdown against Emirates in their last game, leading Banide to question the pride and commitment of his players. They looked like they were carrying the hangover from that 3-0 thrashing into the start of last night’s game.
Gradually, however, the hosts started clawing their way back into the match stringing together a few attacks, with the hugely impressive Fahad Hadeed instrumental in most of them.
The first half finished 0-0. As the second period resumed, Banide was probably counting every second and must have breathed a sigh of relief as the clock ticked past the 48-minute mark.
For five consecutive matches, The Frenchman watched his team concede a goal in those first three minutes after the restart. That disappointing run had finally come to an end, but it was not the end of his disappointments. Ahli took the lead in the 50th minute as Basheer Saeed blasted home a loose ball from inside a crowded area following a corner kick.
Less than three minutes later, Ciel volleyed home, in a virtual repeat of Saeed’s goal, following some deft work on the left by Waleed Hussain. Ahli almost got a third in the 56th minute as Jimenez shook the right post with an effort. Four minutes later, Ciel’s free kick skimmed off the crossbar.
Against the run of play, Hadeed pulled one back for Wasl in the 66th minute with a brilliant finish. Pulling away from Hussain on the right, he squeezed the ball past the Ahli defence into the far corner.
The home fans celebrated wildly, but their joy lasted only a few seconds as Grafite headed in Ciel’s inch-perfect cross in the. The Brazilian striker then made it 4-1 in the 75th minute, converting from the spot after he was dragged down by Waheed Ismail.
“I hope the people who came to the stadium and watched on TV, enjoyed this game,” said Cosmin Olaroiu, the Ahli coach.
“There were plenty of goalscoring opportunities and thank God we managed to score four.
“We could have scored more, but we controlled the game right through and deserve this win fully.”
OLIVEIRA TREBLE ENOUGH FOR AL JAZIRA
Al Jazira needed a hat-trick from captain Ricardo Oliveira to see off a spirited Dubai in the League Cup yesterday. Bruno Correa had opened the scoring before Oliveira struck twice to give the visitors the lead. Correa equalised before Oliveira scored the winner with 17 minutes remaining with a cracking long-range effort.
In Group A’s other match, Baniyas were held to a 1-1 draw at home by Al Shaab.