x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Ali Mabkhout winner sends Al Jazira to Etisalat Cup final

Al Wahda are beaten 2-1 in thrilling Abu Dhabi derby as their city rivals head for a replay of the 2010 final.

Ismail Matar, the Al Wahda forward, came very close to scoring against Al Jazira. Ravindranath K / The National
Ismail Matar, the Al Wahda forward, came very close to scoring against Al Jazira. Ravindranath K / The National

ABU DHABI // Ali Mabkhout's last-gasp winner ensured a first win in five games for beleaguered coach Luis Milla and means the Spaniard could end a turbulent spell in charge of Al Jazira with silverware come the end of the season.

The UAE international headed in a free kick from Matias Delgado for the visitor's to clinch a 2-1 win over Al Wahda in the Etisalat Cup semi-final at the Al Nahyan Stadium.

Delgado, the Argentine, had earlier given Jazira a fifth-minute lead before the Croatian Srdan Andric made it 1-1 on 50 minutes.

Just as the game look destined for extra time though, Mabkhout, who came on as a second-half substitute for Ibrahim Diaky, struck the goal that may transform Jazira's - and Milla's fortunes.

Delgado kissed the ball before firing in and Mabkhout directed it expertly into the net.

The win will give Milla some much-needed respite after two draws in the Pro League and two defeats in the Asian Champions League since he took charge of the Abu Dhabi club a month ago.

Jazira went on the offensive from the onset and scored from the second chance they created.

Abdulla Al Noobi, the Wahda defender, made a clearance on the line to deny Ibrahim Diaky from scoring off a Fernandinho cross, before the Brazilian's second cross was volleyed home by for Delgado.

Ali Kasheif, the Jazira goalkeeper, did well thwart Wahda on several occasions, first saving a bullet effort from to block from Saeed Al Kathiri from 25 and then palming away Ismail Matar's free kick.

However, Branko Ivankovic's men eventually found a way through five minutes after the restart when Andric completed a flowing move by heading a cross from Mahmoud Khamis, playing in his first game for the season since returning from injury.

Mabkhout's introduction sparked a resurgence and the Emirati was inches away from connecting with a Ricardo Oliveira cross before making the most important connection of all with virtually the last kick of the game to set up a final against Ajman, who had earlier beaten Al Shabab 2-1 in the other semi-final.

apassela@thenational.ae

twitter Follow us @SprtNationalUAE