x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

Al Nasr 2 Baniyas 1

Walter Zenga's men leapfrog over Al Shabab into fifth spot after staving of Baniyas at home.

From left, Fawaz Musabi and Nawaf Musabi of Baniyas try to stop Humaid Ahmed. Satish Kumar / The National
From left, Fawaz Musabi and Nawaf Musabi of Baniyas try to stop Humaid Ahmed. Satish Kumar / The National

DUBAI // Al Nasr inched back into the Pro League's top five with a 2-1 win over Baniyas last night.

Helal Saeed and Takayuki Morimoto scored 20 minutes apart, on either side of the break, to give Nasr a 2-0 lead, but Nawaf Mubarak brought the game alive with a stunning finish. The hosts, however, managed to keep their lead till the final whistle for a well-earned win.

The victory takes Nasr's tally to 32 points and they leapfrog Al Shabab in the standings, while Baniyas remain in second (38), at least for another day, as Ahli (36 points) have a chance of taking that spot if they beat Al Shaab tonight.

Nasr, keen to improve their position on the points table, dominated the opening session and were unfortunate not to get more than one goal in the first half.

First, the Japanese star Takayuki Morimoto tested the Baniyas keeper with a header in the fifth minute and, seconds later, he tried to deflect Habib Fardan's volley past him, but Obaid Al Taweela was alert.

Al Taweela came to Baniyas' rescue once again, in the 20th minute, sliding in to thwart Giuseppe Mascara. Five minutes later, Nasr were frustrated again as Fardan's header bounced back off the crosspiece.

The hosts, however, were not to be denied for long and took the lead in the 38th minute when Helal Saeed headed in Hassan Ameen's delivery.

Missing the Swede Christian Wilhelmsson and the star of UAE's win over Uzbekistan last week, Amer Abdulrahman, through injuries, Baniyas had few opportunities in the first half. Their best chance came in the 43rd minute when Haboush Saleh tried to flick past the Nasr keeper.

As Baniyas, second in the league standings, struggled to make an impression, Nasr got their second in the 58th minute when Morimoto, set up by Fardan, muscled his way past Yousuf Jaber and side-stepped the advancing keeper to slot home.

Two minutes later, Nawaf Mubarak pulled one back for the visitors with a stunning left-footer that gave the Nasr keeper Ahmed Shambieh no chance. The goal raised Baniyas hopes, but Nasr survived in the tense closing minutes to clinch three points.

arizvi@thenational.ae

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