x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Ahli win on the quiet

Al Ahli beat Al Khaleej 3-0 to stay on top of the etisalat Pro League table, but the sparse crowd who witnessed the match will not take away any memories to treasure.

Al Ahli's Hassan Ali, left, plays the ball past an Al Khaleej player during his side's 3-0 victory.
Al Ahli's Hassan Ali, left, plays the ball past an Al Khaleej player during his side's 3-0 victory.

DUBAI // Al Ahli beat Al Khaleej 3-0 to stay on top of the etisalat Pro League table, but not many, if any, of the sparse crowd who witnessed the match would have taken away any memories to treasure. Few football games must have been played in such silence and the mute stands mirrored the action on the pitch, with nothing much to shout about.

There were periods of silence, especially in the first session, where you could have heard a pin drop and the only cheers were when Jader Volnei Spindler "Bare" put the hosts ahead after just 104 seconds and Hosny Abd Rabo added a second in the 71st minute. The loudest noise of the night was reserved for Milad Meydavoudi, who waltzed his way inside the box three minutes from the end and found the narrowest of gap to score the third for the hosts.

There was a clear gulf in class between the two sides. Having conceded a goal even before they got a feel of the turf, Khaleej looked short of ideas. They just floated the ball in the air, hoping it would land somewhere close to a team-mate. The players looked desperate to clear the ball as soon as they got it. They rarely threatened and their first chance came in 39th minute, through a defensive lapse but Mohammed Malallah shot straight into the charging Ahli keeper Obaid al Taweelah. Taweelah denied the visitors again in the 51st minute, sliding in to block Nawaf Rashed, who had managed to sneak into the box unchallenged.

The 3-0 victory takes Ahli's tally to 15 points from six games, but the Super Cup winners were far from impressive. They looked jaded and failed to find their tempo after the early goal. Bare sneaked into the box unchecked to nod home a Meydavoudi cross from the left and that was beginning of the end for the game as a contest. The hosts seemed content with the second-minute strike, and showed no inclination to impose themselves on the game.

They did have their chances - Milad missed with a header and volleyed over, Bare headed into the keeper while Ismail al Hammadi smashed into side net - but they didn't look like scoring a second until Milad relayed the ball for Hosny Abd Rabo, who volleyed past Jaber Jassem. Milad then sealed the game with one of his trademark twisting runs into the box, before finishing with a deft volley between the keeper and the right post.

In the other matches of the night, Al Jazira drubbed hosts Al Sharjah 4-0, with Ibrahim Diaky, Subait Khater, Rozario and Abdullah Mousa scoring a goal apiece. Al Wahda were held to a 1-1 draw at Al Dhafra with Husain Suhail equalising a minute from time after Basheer Saeed had put the visitors ahead in the 70th minute. @Email:arizvi@thenational.ae