DUBAI // Mariano Donda marked his return to the Pro League last night with a brilliant free kick that helped Al Wasl end their losing streak against Dubai and return with a point from the Al Awir club.
The Argentine, who missed the last six league matches through a knee injury and attended just three training sessions before this match, started on the bench, but was sent out by Guy Lacombe as the game resumed after the break.
At that point Wasl were trailing 2-1 against a side that had won all four of their duels last season, scoring five goals in two of them.
Donda answered the SOS with a 77th-minute equaliser, which helped Wasl break their jinx against Dubai, but the Zabeel club are still way down the league table, in eighth, with just one win from their last seven matches and three draws.
"I am very happy with the way we came back in the match," said Lacombe, the Wasl coach.
"It is very difficult to come back from two goals down, but the players fought really hard and I cannot thank them enough for it."
The Wasl fans, however, might not be very pleased with this result against a depleted Dubai team, who were missing three of their foreign players.
Richard Porta suffered a thigh injury on the eve of the match and was forced to sit out a game he was really looking forward to.
The Uruguayan had spent the first four months of last season at Wasl, but was released in the January transfer window and sent back home.
Guinean striker Alhassane Keita was also missing from Dubai's line-up, as was their captain Ali Hassan and Brazilian midfielder Magrao.
Simon Pierre Feindouno was their lone foreign player on the pitch and he put them ahead virtually single-handedly in the 29th minute.
Making a dash from the halfway line, the French-Guinean tricked his way past the lone defender Yasser Salem and then chipped the ball past the keeper.
Rami Yaslam, the former Al Ain man, almost doubled Dubai's tally with a stinging volley in the 43rd minute. Rashed Ali, the Wasl keeper, made a brilliant diving stop to deny him. But the keeper seemed a bit overzealous as he tried to grab the ball from the resulting corner kick by Hassan Abdulrahman and dragged it into the net.
Ali Abbas reduced the margin with a well-placed header seconds before the half-time whistle and then Donda struck the equaliser 13 minutes from time. The Argentine chipped the ball over the wall, leaving the Dubai goalkeeper stranded. Ecstatic, he then raced to the Wasl bench embracing his teammates, coaches and officials.
While the home fans were left heartbroken by the result, Rene Marsiglia, the Dubai coach, was pleased given his long injury list.
"I am happy with the performance of our players and the result," Marsiglia said. "We were missing four important players, but our reserve players proved themselves tonight.
"Porta got injured at our final training session last night, so that really disrupted my plans for the game. But I have no complaints and thank my players for their effort."
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