x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Baniyas 1 Al Wahda 1

The visitors managed to stop Baniyas in their unbeaten run but it was not a convincing show.

SHAMKHA // Al Wahda brought Baniyas's five-match winning streak to a grinding halt last night, and the solitary point the hosts picked up in the 1-1 draw allowed Al Ain to expand their lead at the top of the Pro League table.

Mohammed Jaber put the home side ahead before Nawaf Mubarak, the Baniyas midfielder, put the ball into his own net to level the score five minutes later.

Baniyas received an early blow when Christian Wilhelmsson, who had to pass a late fitness test, had to be carried off the pitch in a stretcher in the 18th minute.

The Swedish international pulled up when chasing a ball in what looked like a hamstring injury and may face a lengthy absence. His place was filled by Haboush Saleh.

Yet Baniyas looked the better team against a scrappy Wahda, who lost possession almost every time they had the ball, particularly in the second half.

Baniyas saw an early chance go begging when Jaber's powerfully struck header off a corner breezed past the near post.

He was on target with his second effort though, heading home a high ball fired across the area by Amer Abdulrahman.

But Baniyas's joy was short-lived as Mubarak, trying to clear the ball before it fell into Saeed Al Kathiri's path, succeeded only in sending it to the back of his own net, after a cross from Papa Waigo took a deflection off a Baniyas defender.

Waigo had an opportunity to put the visitors ahead but his meek effort was cleared by Fawaz Awana, the Baniyas defender, after the Senegalese forward had got around the goalkeeper Mohammed Ghuloom.

Baniyas pushed hard for a winner in the second half. Adel Al Hosani, the Wahda keeper, did well to push over a close-range effort from Sultan Al Ghaferi.

Branko Ivankovic, the Wahda coach, brought on his influential captain, Ismail Matar, from the bench in the 64th minute, but it made little difference as the visitors continued to struggle for control on the pitch.

The draw means Baniyas are now eight points behind Al Ain who are on 46 with eight games left.

Wahda took their tally to 28 but remain seventh, behind Al Shabab and Al Nasr.

The Pro League takes a three-week break for the Asian Champions League next week, followed by the national team's Asian Cup qualifier against Uzbekistan on March 22.

apassela@thenational.ae

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