ABU DHABI // Papa Waigo and Marcelo Oliveira scored within two minutes of each other as 10-man Al Wahda rallied from a goal down to clinch a dramatic 2-1 home victory over Al Nasr in the Etisalat Cup tonight.
Waigo ran nearly half the length of the field to score on a counter-attack and Oliveira made up for all the missed opportunities in the first half with a sliding effort to complete an excellent move. Leonardo Lima had earlier put the visitors in front in the 53rd minute with a penalty awarded for a handball by Adel Basulaiman, the Wahda defender.
Wahda's task of levelling the scores was made more difficult when Srdan Andric, the Croatian midfielder, was sent off on the hour mark when he was given second yellow card for a foul.
But that only seemed to fire up the Abu Dhabi side as they launched attack after attack to secure the three points and take their tally to 13, five more than their closest challengers Al Ain with three games left.
Both teams had a player sent off - Basulaiman and Helal Saeed who was given a red card for dissent in added time.
Branko Ivankovic, the Wahda coach, joined them in the dying seconds of the game.
After a drab first half the game sprung to life after the interval as the visitors broke the deadlock and then Andric was sent off at the Al Nahyan stadium.
Nasr tested the Wahda goalkeeper Ali Al Hosani in the very first minute but thereafter it was the home team who created a flurry of chances but failed to score from any of them because of poor finish.
Jamal Ibrahim sprinted half the length of the field on the whistle and unleashed a fierce shot from inside the box which Al Hosani did well to block.
It was Wahda's turn to create and attack for the remaining period of the first half.
Oliveira was wide from the edge of the box after the Brazilian was set up by Waigo.
He was wide of the mark again and lost control on another, both chances provided by Waigo, the Senegalese forward.
Ahmed Shambeh, the Nasr goalkeeper, did well to hold on to a stinging low shot from Tawfeeq Abdulrazaq and Oliveira, unmarked in front of the goal, was again wide with a header from a corner.
Mohammed Al Shehhi had a golden opportunity to make up for the missed opportunities on a counter-attack before the break. But he was too late on the shot and eventually sent it wide when he was one on one against Shambeh.
Wahda were without Ismail Matar, their captain and playmaker, the forward Saeed Al Kathiri and the centre back Hamdan Al Kamali.
Nasr too rested most of their senior players except for Lima, the Brazilian midfielder.
Meanwhile, Al Wasl’s chances of winning a place in the last four of the Etisalat Cup took a knock tonight when they were beaten 1-0 at home by Kalba, Group B’s bottom team.
Abdulla Faraj scored the winner eight minutes from time after the Dubai club were down to 10 players following the sending off of Yaser Salem, the defender, in the 72nd minute.
Wasl remain top of the group on nine points but have played one game more than Al Jazira (seven) and Baniyas (six), who play Al Dhafra tomorrow night.
Founeke Sy scored twice in Ajman’s 3-1 away win over Dibba Al Fujairah to move to the top of Group C.
It was Ajman’s third win over the promoted club, twice in the Etisalat Cup and a 4-1 thrashing in the Pro League two weeks ago.
Boris Kabi gave the visitors the lead in the second minute and Sy doubled their advantage nine minutes later and added a second in added time of the first half to virtually seal the fate of the game in the first period of play.
Eisa Ali scored a consolation goal for Dibba four minutes from time.
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