x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Ahli keep Jazira in sight after Wahda win

Al Ahli kept their dreams of winning the Pro League alive with a convincing 3-0 win over Al Wahda.

Al Ahli kept their dreams of winning the Pro League alive with a convincing 3-0 win over Al Wahda. With the UAE coach Dominique Bathenay in attendance at the Rashid Stadium, taking notes for the two 2010 World Cup qualifiers ahead, Faisal Khalil made the right impressions with the opening goal in the 26th minute. Ali Abbas doubled the tally two minutes from half-time and Clederson Cesar added the third in the 75th minute. The win keeps Ahli in second on 33 points, two behind Al Jazira, while Wahda stay in eighth with 15 points after 14 matches. The game was a scrappy affair at the start. There was plenty of running around and jostling, but to no avail. The passing was inevitably long and wide and the challenges were late and merciless. In the midst of that mediocrity, the ace poacher Faisal Khalil brought joy for the Ahli fans with a calm finish in the 26th minute. Khalil, of course, enjoyed a bit of fortune as the Wahda keeper Ali Rabea missed a simple collection and the ball slipped out of his hands and trickled towards the backline for a corner.

Khalil raced to retrieve the ball, turned around his marker and waited a while to gauge his options before scooping the ball over the keeper as the Wahda defence approached him. That goal sparked the game into life. Wahda thought they had equalised in the 41st minute when Ameen al Ribati shoved Ahli keeper Saif Yousuf aside to force the ball into the net. The goal was, however, chalked off for the infringement. As the visitors grieved over that decision, Ali Abbas added to their woes with a sneaky header in the 43rd minute. The midfielder dived in front to guide Hosny Abd Rabo's curling free-kick past the flummoxed Wahda keeper and defence. Wahda, boasting five UAE internationals in their starting line-up, came back a lot more determined in the second half, but they failed to create any real opportunities. With a two-goal cushion, Ahli were calling the shots and Cesar headed in the third off a corner to drain the fight out of the visitors. arizvi@thenational.ae