Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large
Al Shabab, in green, had not won since the opening day of the season until last night. Ashraf Al Amra / Al Ittihad
Al Shabab, in green, had not won since the opening day of the season until last night. Ashraf Al Amra / Al Ittihad

Al Shabab 2 Al Wasl 1

Al Shabab grab their second win of the season with victory over Al Wasl.

Carlos Villanueva and Mariano Donda are not the mirror image of the other. The former is short and compact and boasts a fine mop of hair; the latter is of medium build and shaves his head. But the importance each South American playmaker carries as creator and engine to their clubs is clear to be seen on the pitch as well as in the Pro League table.

Al Wasl's woes since Donda went out with an injury have been documented. Eight points from four league games with him in the line-up; two in five since. But Shabab's struggles without Villanueva have been at least as dramatic, if not as often mentioned.

The Chilean suffered a major cruciate ligament tear in a match with Wasl on March 29, a season-ending injury overshadowed by Diego Maradona charging into the VIP stand at the Maktoum Stadium. Wasl's former coach called Shabab fans "cowards" that night, but the real damage to the club was Villanueva's ruined knee, which he continues to rehabilitate.

Ahead of the team's match-up last night, Shabab had won only two of 13 league games since Villanueva was carried off the pitch, and even their much needed 2-1 victory over Wasl did not suggest a corner had been turned.

Shabab managed only one goal of their own, a crisp header by Edgar Bruno off a corner with seven minutes to play. Their first was an own goal by Wasl's Ali Abbas, on an earlier corner.

The home team were a bit more dangerous throughout, particularly with Ciel raiding up the right flank, but Wasl had a few good chances, too, as Shikabala offered his own version of right-side energy. Each team were hopeless in midfield, unable to mount even primitive connections.

Wasl's goal came when Shikabala drifted into the middle of the pitch and slipped a pass forward to Rashid Essa.

The UAE national tapped it to the Uruguayan forward Emiliano Alfaro, and he dragged it from behind him and into the goal with his left foot to create a brief 1-1 score line.

The victory was more than just a psychic salve for Shabab, who had not won since the season opener. They began the night only one point above the relegation zone, a shocking state of affairs for one of the country's biggest clubs, who will play in the Asian Champions League four months hence. They are likely to struggle, however, until Villanueva comes back, and the same is true for Wasl and Donda.


twitter Follow us @SprtNationalUAE

Back to the top

More articles

Editor's Picks

 Barcelona’s Lionel Messi plays with a rugby ball during a training session at Ciutat Esportiva Joan Gamper training camp, near Barcelona in Sant Joan Despi, April 15, 2014. REUTERS/Gustau Nacarino

In pictures: Barca play a little rugby before Copa del Rey final

Barcelona and Real Madrid will play in the Copa del Rey final on Wednesday night but the day before the match, Braca players played a little rugby during a training session at Ciutat Esportiva Joan Gamper training camp, in Sant Joan Despi, Spain. Barca meet Real Madrid on Wednesday at 11.30pm (UAE time) and the match will be on BeIn Sports.

 Supporters of China during the Asian Cup Qualifier match between Iraq vs China at Sharjah football stadium in Sharjah. Iraq won the match by 3-1. Pawan Singh / The National

Asian Cup expanding to 24 football teams in 2019

As part of a regional shake-up, the 2019 Asian Cup will climb to 24 teams but next month’s Challenge Cup in the Maldives will be the last, the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) announced.

 Faisal Al Ketbi, standing, has been the poster boy for the upcoming Abu Dhabi World Professional Jiu-Jitsu Championship. Courtesy of Abu Dhabi World Professional Jiu-Jitsu Championship

Faisal Al Ketbi is in spotlight for world jiu-jitsu championships at Abu Dhabi

Faisal Al Ketbi is the poster boy for UAE jiu-jitsu, with his picture prominent in the billboards and advertisements for this week’s Abu Dhabi World Jiu-Jitsu Championship.

 Abdelaziz Haikal, left, avoids getting tackled, but his Al Ahli side were forced to a goalless draw at home to Al Hilal, from Saudi Arabia. Al Ittihad

Al Ahli miss huge opportunity to progress in ACL

Dubai side forced to a goalless draw at home to Al Hilal. Ahmed Rizvi reports.

 Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton, left, gestures from his car after winning the Formula One Malaysian Grand Prix at the Sepang circuit near Kuala Lumpur on March 30, 2014. He will be among the favourites at the Chinese Grand Prix on Sunday. AFP PHOTO / Ed Jones

F1: Mercedes look to capitalise on woes at Red Bull and Ferrari

Ferrari were left reeling after team principal Stefano Domenicali quit and Red Bull were handed a setback when they lost their appeal for Daniel Ricciardo as both incidents have heightened the mood at Mercedes ahead of the Chinese Grand Prix.

 Atletico Madrid's Diego Costa could be wearing a blue kit next season at Chelsea in the English Premier League. REUTERS/Susana Vera

Atletico’s Diego Simeone cannot stop Diego Costa move to Chelsea

Diego Costa has been the standout player for Atletico Madrid with his 26 goals, which has attracted the attention of several leading European clubs and Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea are reportedly at the front of the queue.


To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National