x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Al Wahda go through the motions

With their ACL campaign over, the side were merely fulfilling an obligation and the Saudi giants raced away to 4-0 lead past the half hour mark.

Al Wahda were fulfilling an obligation. For them the Asian Champions League was as good as over even before they boarded the flight to Jeddah for their away game with Al Ittihad, last year's finalist and two time-winner of the continental title. The Saudi giants had the game won past the half hour, racing to a 4-0 lead, a score that remained unchallenged until the end at the Prince Abdullah Al Faisal Stadium on Tuesday. A defeat was not beyond anybody's guess for a depleted Wahda but the manner in which they played, particularly in the first half, was disappointing, to say the least. Ittihad's victory took their tally to seven points, three behind Iran's Zobahan, who stunned the Uzbek club Bunyodkor 1-0. Wahda were left with no points from four games, thus leaving the Group B for the three teams to fight it out for the two spots in the last 16.

The Algerian Abdelmalik Ziaya opened the floodgates heading a left cross from Manaf Abu Shogair in the 12 minute. Saud Kariri scored twice in succession, the first a 35-yard low effort which Adel al Hosani fumbled and the next was a rocket from 40 yards. Sultan al Namri completed a superb half hour for the home side with a spectacular bicycle kick off a short cross from Rashed Raheeb. Wahda were more organised in the second half and could have scored twice. Saeed al Kathiri wasted a golden opportunity with a weak effort when setup by Ismail Matar inside the box and Matar's effort from six yards off a rebound crashed against the post. Wahda were without their top-scorer Fernando Baiano, the Brazilian sitting out a one-match ban for two bookings. They rested the Brazilian midfielders Pinga and Magrao, and the UAE internationals Mohammed al Shehhi and Abdulraheem Jumaa. apassela@thenational.ae