ABU DHABI // With much of their preparation and focus in the first half of the season on the Club World Cup in Abu Dhabi last December, Al Wahda were back in business with a clinical 4-0 demolition of Al Wasl last night at the Al Nahyan stadium.
Basheer Saeed put them ahead in the 13th minute before Fernando Baiano, Mohammed al Shehhi and Ismail Matar hit the net in the last seven minutes to complete the rout.
Saeed curled in a free kick from 35 yards out, Baiano scored from the spot at the second attempt, al Shehhi scored with a low shot and Matar finished expertly following a quick tap from Saeed al Kathiri that put him one-on-one with Majed Naser, the Wasl goalkeeper.
The result moved the champions up four places up the 12-team league to third on 18 points, which leaves them 14 behind the runaway leaders Al Jazira with a match in hand.
Wasl ended with 10 players when Ali Mahmoud, the defender, was given a direct red by the referee Hamad al Shaikh Hashmi for pulling down Matar. It cost them a penalty and Wahda made them pay with the numerical advantage.
"It is indeed a good start," said Josef Hickersberger, the Wahda coach. "We were the better team on the night and deserved to win. The break was good for us because we spent the first half of the season preparing for the Club World Cup, and now that's out of the way for us so we can focus back on the league.
"We don't know how the season will pan out for us but it is a good start. The result is also good for the confidence of the players."
Sergio Farias, the Wasl coach was naturally disappointed and blamed the concession of an early goal as the reason for his side's defeat.
"We conceded a goal from a free kick and Wahda took advantage of the numerical advantage to score three more goals towards the end."
Saeed had curled in a free kick from 35 yards to beat Majed Naser, the Wasl goalkeeper, at his near post after Alexandre Oliveira had felled Fahed Masoud.
Wasl responded almost immediately but Mutaz Abdulla, the Wahda goalkeeper, did well to push out Oliveira's effort from eight yards out to deny the visitors levelling.
Spurred by the early lead, Wahda went on the offensive to create a few chances but failed to convert them into goals.
But they made up for it in the last seven minutes by converting all that came their way to come out with an impressive scorline at the end.
The heat is on for Baniyas to maintain second position in the Pro League after Al Jazira moved eight points clear following a 2-1 away win over Al Nasr when the competition resumed after a 41-day break on Thursday.
Baniyas will be at home to Al Shabab in tonight's late game and Sharjah entertain Kalba, the bottom placed team in the early game.