AL AIN // Jose Sand made a sensational start to his Al Ain career by scoring a hat-trick on his competitive debut. The US$10-million (Dh36.7m) Argentine, signed to replace last season's top-scorer Andre Diaz, set up a 3-2 victory over Bahrain's Al Riffa on the opening night of the Al Ain quadrangular championship at the Khalifa bin Zayed Stadium on Friday night. The nine-time league champions signed Sand, 29, from the Argentine Primera Division Lanus. He was the top-scorer in Argentina's Apertura 2008 championship with 15 goals in 19 games. In the Clausura 2009, he became the first player to become top-scorer in consecutive tournaments since Diego Maradona in 1980. Overall he scored 50 goals in 67 league games and six in 12 Copa Libertadores matches.
Sand made an immediate impact in his first competitive match for Al Ain, heading home a Jorge Valdivia free-kick for the opener in the 15th minute. He added a second through a penalty, which he earned himself when he was brought down by the goalkeeper Hamad al Dossari three minutes from the break. He completed his hat-trick when he smashed home a cross from Ali al Wehaibi on the 71st minute. The visitors struck twice after the Al Ain manager, Winfried Schaefer, made a raft of substitutions. Nedal Faisal converted a penalty after Ismail Saleh was brought down by Mohannad al Enazi. Saleh scored the second in injury time.
The Kuwaiti club, Al Qadsiya, outclassed Al Shabab, of Oman, 3-0. The competition is part of Ain's final preparation for the new season, and the second round of the matches will be played tomorrow, with Qadsiya facing Riffa in the opener followed by the Al Ain and Shabab clash. firstname.lastname@example.org