x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Champions Wahda suffer opening day setback

Al Wahda made a disappointing start to the defence of their Pro League title with a stinging defeat at Al Wasl.

DUBAI // Al Wahda made a disappointing start to the defence of their Pro League title with a stinging defeat at Al Wasl last night. Playing second-fiddle for most of the game, the Abu Dhabi side conceded twice within seven minutes in the second half to return empty-handed from Dubai. Alexandre Oliveira, the Brazilian forward, opened the scoring in the 59th minute and Francisco Yeste, the Spanish import, fired in the insurance in the 66th to spoil the report card for Adel al Hosani, the Wahda goalkeeper, who otherwise turned in a resolute performance.

A noisy and colourful crowd ushered in the new season at Wasl, with thousands trooping in after the Tarawi prayers. Buoyed by their supporters, the home side forced Wahda - who lost the season-opening Super Cup 3-1 last week to demoted club Emirates - on the defensive. An opportunity arrived for Wasl as early as the second minute, but al Hosani did well to thwart it. He was swift to react as an Essa Ali free-kick deflected off the wall, away from him. Al Hosani changed directions and punched the ball away to safety.

Missing Ismail Matar and Mohammed al Shehhi through suspensions following their red cards in the Super Cup, Wahda were short of attacking options, but Modibo Diara, the striker from Mali, had the home fans gasping as his first-time flick brushed the post in the 18th minute. That was Wahda's only real chance of the first session as Wasl maintained their stranglehold. Al Hosani denied them again in the 28th minute when he pushed over the bar a chip by Oliveira. Wasl finally broke through when Mohammed Jamal, denied by al Hosani seconds earlier, cannoned another one in that hit the inside of the crosspiece and Oliveira tussled with a defender to nod the ball home. Yeste then made it 2-0 with a stunning solo effort, taking his time inside the box to find an opening before launching a rocketing left-footer that left the Wahda goalkeeper stranded. arizvi@thenational.ae

Al Wasl Oliveira 59', Yeste 66'
 Man of the match Yeste (Al Wasl)