ABU DHABI // Al Wahda registered their first win in this season's Etisalat Cup with a comfortable victory over Al Dhafra, with the Wahda coach Ahmed Abdulhaleem left wondering how his players only managed to score one. The hosts dominated from start to finish and the 1-0 scoreline flattered a lightweight Dhafra side.
Eisa Ahmed was guilty of a glaring miss on seven minutes when he escaped the attentions of the Dhafra defence but somehow managed to fluff his header from three yards out. Fortunately for Ahmed, his blushes lasted less than a minute as he set up Karim Alawadi who rammed the ball home into the top left-hand corner for what proved to be the only goal of the game. Dhafra's first meaningful attack came on 15 minutes as Ali Saeed whipped in an inviting cross for Mohammed Ali to test Ali Rabee with a rasping volley but Rabee saved well at his near post.
The Dhafra coach Mohammed Kwid was forced to reshuffle his attack on 25 minutes as Mahdi Rajab Zadeh was withdrawn following a collision with Omar Ali as the hosts, driven largely by their industrious captain Fahed Masoud, continued to dominate. Ali forced Ali Rabee into a fingertip save six minutes before half-time with a left-foot hammer from all of 40 yards but Wahda went into the interval a goal to the good. Rabee saved bravely at the feet of Abdul Nabi early in the second half to deny the visitors an equaliser, but Wahda looked dangerous on the counter-attack.
When Louciano cut the ball back for Masoud to pull the trigger on 65 minutes, it took a courageous block from the defender Khayri Khalfan to stop Abdulhaleem's men going two up. Khalfan's bravery sadly saw him leave the game injured. Masoud's move out to the right of midfield resulted in him sending in four pinpoint crosses for the Wahda strikers to attack, but not one of them could get the all-important final touch to double their advantage as chance after chance went begging.
With time running out Dhafra resulted to long ball tactics but every time the ball was pumped in, a defender sent it back out to ensure Wahda ended the game with a clean sheet and a well- deserved first victory in the Etisalat Cup. @Email:email@example.com