ABU DHABI // Rubaiya Houbari's injury-time equaliser gave Al Khaleej a deserved draw in their Group B game against Al Wasl at the Zabeel Stadium tonight. The midfielder, a first-half substitute for Patrick Kazadi, rose expertly at the back post to direct a header down past the despairing Rashed Ali Salem to give the visitors a share of the spoils in the dying stages. After bossing possession in the first half, the visitors dominance subsided as goals from Waleed Murad and Tareq Darwish turned the game in favour of the home side.
Miroslav Beranek, the Wasl coach, provided the inspiration at half-time to wake his slumbering side from an insipid display, despite the hosts taking an early lead on five minutes when Essa Ali Mussa headed in Khaled Darwish's inswinging corner. However, instead of capitalising on their good start they allowed Khaleej a route back into the tie courtesy of a thunderous Kazadi half-volley. Khaleej then exploited some sloppy play from Mussa when the impressive Mohammed Malallah slid a through ball to Abass Moya for the Nigerian to coolly slot past Salem. Wasl came out a more determined outfit in the second half and looked to have gained victory through Murad's scrambled goal and Darwish's powerful strike from 25 yards.
Khaleej looked dead and buried, but still pressed forward. Murad's late challenge gave a free-kick just outside the area - the Wasl left-back received a red card for his lunge - and Houbari rubbed salt in the wound when he coasted in unmarked to snatch a draw. @Email:firstname.lastname@example.org