x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Diaky's double delight for Jazira

Injury-time strikes at the end of each half from Ibrahim Diaky dragged 10-man Al Jazira to a victory that extended their lead to five points at the top of the Pro League.

Al Shabab and Al Jazira players battle for a loose ball during last night's game. Ashraf Al Amra / Al Ittihad
Al Shabab and Al Jazira players battle for a loose ball during last night's game. Ashraf Al Amra / Al Ittihad

Al Shabab 0 // Al Jazira 2

Al Jazira Diaky 45’, 90’
Red card Tony (Al Jazira)
Man of the match Yaser Matar (Al Jazira)

DUBAI // Injury-time strikes at the end of each half from Ibrahim Diaky dragged 10-man Al Jazira to a victory that extended their lead to five points at the top of the Pro League last night.

The triumph will have been well-received at the Abu Dhabi club, even though it was earned with a performance that was far short of their best.

For much of the second half they had flirted with giving away their one-goal cushion, having controlled the first hour of the game.

They made life tough on themselves when Tony was unnecessarily sent off on the hour for two acts of indiscipline.

However, as is often the case, Diaky, their powerfully built captain, settled their nerves when he bundled home the decisive second after the 90 minutes were up.

Just as the referee had his whistle to his lips ready to blow for half-time, the away side were gifted the lead.

Diaky, Jazira's leader and the league's co-leading scorer with 10 goals, sent in a low shot from 25 yards out. It should have posed few problems but Salem Abdullah, the Shabab goalkeeper, did his best impersonation of a hologram and let the ball go straight through him.

It was no more than the Abu Dhabi side deserved. Jazira had the monopoly on chances in the first half. Bare was clean through with just the goalkeeper to beat twice within a minute, yet made Abdullah's job too easy both times.

Abdullah Mousa, their rangy left-back, saw a looping header from a corner clip the top of the crossbar, just before Carlos Villaneuva, Shabab's playmaker, had his side's best effort stopped by the boot of goalkeeper Ali Kasheif.

Five minutes into the second-half, the game briefly gave way to a comical show of amateur-dramatics. Every outfield player seemed keen to offer their views on a fall-out between Essa Mohammed, the Shabab defender, and the Jazira substitute, Tony.

Both players had theatrically thrown themselves to ground following a nondescript coming together, but it was the powerful Jazira forward whom the referee deemed worthy of a booking.

Tony's acting skills leave much to be desired, and they cost him his place in the match 10 minutes later. His clear dive in the Shabab box might not have been quite as obvious, let alone as injudicious, had he not done it right under the nose of the referee, Ammar Ali.

As it was, the official had no option but to show him a second yellow card, although he did appear to waver while he was assessing the consequences of sending off Tony.

Emboldened, the home side pressed hard for an equaliser, which had not previously seemed within their compass.

They came closest with seven minutes left, when Villaneuva curled a free-kick from the edge of the box just wide of the apex between post and crossbar.

pradley@thenational.ae