x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

Al Jazira 1 Al Nasr 2

Walter Zenga hails character of his players after late rally to upset Al Jazira.

Al Nasr, in blue, stood tall after the initial lapse and until the late turnaround.
Al Nasr, in blue, stood tall after the initial lapse and until the late turnaround.

ABU DHABI // Al Nasr picked Al Jazira's pocket with a stunning fightback at Mohammad bin Zayed Stadium last night.

The Abu Dhabi club were defending a 1-0 lead with just a minute of normal time left when the visitors conjured up a double whammy to claim all three points.

First the substitute Humaid Abbas levelled the scores with a glancing header from inside the area in the 89th minute when he latched on to a cross from Leonardo Lima.

And then the Brazilian Bruno Correa grabbed the winner two minutes into added time when he was put through by Lima, broke forward quickly to create a one on one with the keeper and complete a dramatic upset.

Ricardo Oliveira had put the home side ahead with a 30-yard shot, a lead they held on to for 72 minutes.

Walter Zenga, the Nasr coach, was delighted with the way his side had fought right to the final whistle. "We are very happy with the result and our performance," he said. "We didn't give up until the end and to win by scoring two goals at the end of the match shows the character of our players.

"We didn't expect an easy game against a team like Jazira on their home pitch anyway. They have some excellent players and with a very good record in the last four or five seasons.

When asked of the substitution that led to the equaliser, he said: "Yes, it did turn the game because he [Abbas] scored and that led to the second goal. That's a chance we were prepared to take because sometimes it works and it certainly worked for us tonight."

Zenga hopes his team can now push on in all the competitions they are involved in this season.

"I want to take Nasr to both the domestic titles and to a good level in the Asian Champions League," the Italian said.

His opposite number Paulo Bonamigo found defeat hard to take.

"We just didn't deserve to lose," he said. "We were in front until the last minute and then to lose was really disappointing.

"But this is football. You must give credit to them to snatch the game away from us."

It was Jazira's second defeat after going down to Al Ain in the Super Cup in a penalty shoot-out.

"It was not the same performance as in the Super Cup. We played better and had the game in our control. Anyway, we must put this result behind and prepare for the next game, which is another tough one with Al Ahli.

"We still have a lot of weak areas we must try to correct before the next game. We are still looking for a good balance."

It was a dramatic opening round with the four big Abu Dhabi clubs – Al Ain, Al Wahda, Al Jazira and Baniyas - all losing their opening round games.

Both last night's teams were looking to restore some pride after defeats in their first competitive games of the season.

Jazira went down 5-4 in a penalty shoot-out to Al Ain in the Super Cup and Nasr were beaten 3-0 by Al Wahda in their Etisalat Cup opener.

There was a sense of urgency from both teams and the early exchanges were even until Oliveira broke the deadlock in the 17th minute with a dipping shot to catch Nasr goalkeeper Abdulla Moosa unawares.

Oliveira was unmarked as Fernandinho took two defenders with him before slipping a pass to the former AC Milan forward, who had enough time to take aim and fire.


Al Jazira Oliveira 17’

Al Nasr Abbas 89’, Correa 90'+2

Man of the match Bruno Correa (Al Nasr)

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