DUBAI // If opposition managers were sent into panic by last Sunday's four-goal haul from Grafite, the Al Ahli striker, then they found their answer last night at the Rashid Stadium: recruit Ali Kasheif.
The Al Jazira goalkeeper may be otherwise occupied, playing for the 2011 Pro League champions and all, but perhaps the clubs can get together and organise some sort of rental scheme.
With his side two goals up from the 61st minute – Matias Delgado scored early before Ibrahim Diaky doubled the lead from the penalty spot – Kasheif made it his personal mission to keep Grafite at bay, his performance underscored by two superb close-range saves towards the end of the match.
When asked afterwards what was the difference between his side's opening 6-3 victory against Al Ain and the defeat to Jazira, Quique Sanchez Floes, the Ahli coach, laid the blame firmly at the door of the opposition's No 1.
"It was their goalkeeper. We had more attempts than the last game, but scored six goals then and tonight it was impossible," he said. "The goalkeeper saved five or six good opportunities.
"I don't agree with the score because my team had plenty of attempts, but it wasn't our day. Sometimes, in football, teams get lucky; tonight, the luck was with the other team.
The loss represented Ahli's first in seven league matches stretching back to last season, and did not look likely when the hosts started the brighter of the two teams. On 10 minutes, though, Delgado found space on the edge of the Ahli area and angled his shot into the roof of the net to silence the home support.
Jazira then fought to protect their advantage, and were rewarded in the second half when Yousuf Mohammed scythed down Fernandinho, the impressive winger, in the Ahli area. Diaky, the Jazira captain, made no mistake from 12 yards.
Ahli poured forward to try to gain a way back into the game, but Kasheif, much to Grafite's dismay, stood firm.
The victory was Jazira's first of the season having lost the Super Cup on penalties to Al Ain before last Monday's late capitulation to Al Nasr.
Paulo Bonamigo, their coach, was understandably delighted, saying his side have kick-started their season.
"The players were focused for the whole match, used their experience and were really well organised," he said.
"Our finishing was better than it has been in the previous matches. We faced a very good team, an aggressive team, but were more efficient."
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