x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

Al Wasl 4 Ajman 2

Eid Baroot earns his first win as Wasl manager as Emiliano Alfaro fires a hat-trick to power them past Ajman, writes John McAuley.

Al Wasl's Yaser Salem puts his best foot forward during last night's victory over Ajman.
Al Wasl's Yaser Salem puts his best foot forward during last night's victory over Ajman.

DUBAI // As yet another sun set over Al Wasl's fraught season last night, it was an relatively old hand hinting at past glories and future success.

Emiliano Alfaro, the Uruguayan striker, arrived at the Zabeel Stadium last summer from Italy's Serie A and immediately set about collecting the affections of his new supporters.

A hat-trick on debut against Al Wahda was supplemented with five further goals in his next three matches, deeming Alfaro a bona fide rival to Asamoah Gyan and Grafite for the title of Pro League's master marksman.

Yet, then the rot set in.

Alfaro found his name on the score sheet almost as rarely as Wasl tasted victory in the stifling months since the discovery of Bruno Metsu's illness and subsequent resignation.

Guy Lacombe, Metsu's replacement, could not mine gold from the early season's golden boy, with Alfaro's barren spell in the league stretching back to the triumph against Al Shaab - more than two months ago.

However, yesterday evening, with Lacombe gone and Eid Baroot freshly installed, Alfaro finally regained his rhythm to bag a hat-trick in a 4-2 victory over Ajman and offering Wasl new optimism for the second half of the campaign.

His first goal portrayed previously departed predatory instincts. With Jussie, the recent signing from Bordeaux of France, standing over a free-kick on 14 minutes, Alfaro crept between two Ajman defenders and found the requisite space to glance home the ball unmarked.

A wild celebration suggested a significant burden had been eased.

The second provided a clear statement of Alfaro's proficient finishing.

Having gathered Achille Emana's cunning pass just before the hour, the forward raced clear and, as Yousuf Abdulla advanced from his goal and the angle tightened, Alfaro expertly clipped the ball into the net.

Wasl, with only two victories in 11 league matches, were rampant. Emana and Fahad Hadeed patrolled midfield, while Ahmed Ibrahim, the Iraqi centre-back, reinforced the club's faith in recruiting him last month.

If only the man behind him was as competent. Ahmed Mahmoud, the Wasl goalkeeper, had little to do until he faced an Ajman free-kick on the stroke of half time, yet somehow spilled Founeke Sy's effort into his goal.

Insipid until that point, Ajman emerged from the break with renewed hope and were soon level, again the product of Mahmoud's folly.

The Wasl No 1 once more faced a routine save from an ordinary free-kick attempt, but let Driss Fettouhi's tame shot slip through his hands.

Baroot, though, would have bemoaned his custodian's calamity had it not been for Alfaro, who won a penalty on 80 minutes and then thundered the spot kick past Abdulla.

That there was still time for Jussie to add a fourth detracted little from Alfaro's performance.

With 19 goals in all competitions, the reborn striker could be the secret to Wasl's latest genesis.


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