x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 19 February 2018

Emirate stun Al Wahda to lift Super Cup

The Pro League champions get an early wake-up call after suffering a 3-1 defeat to the Ras Al Khaimah club.

Adnan al Beloshi, centre, celebrates after opening the scoring as Emirate defeated Al Wahda 3-1 to win the Super Cup last night.
Adnan al Beloshi, centre, celebrates after opening the scoring as Emirate defeated Al Wahda 3-1 to win the Super Cup last night.

DUBAI // Emirate, on a mission to prove they still belong in the top flight of UAE football, stunned Al Wahda, the Pro League champions, 3-1 last night to win the Super Cup. The Ras al Khaimah club, who were relegated from the Pro League after finishing 11th last season, overcame a jittery start with two goals in 12 minutes to knock the stuffing out of their Abu Dhabi opposition. An opportunistic Adnan al Beloshi strike gave Emirate the lead in the 30th minute and Karim Kerkar doubled the tally in 42nd with a brilliant goal, cutting across four defenders before unleashing an unstoppable shot. Fernando Baiano brought Wahda back into the game with a goal 10 minutes from time, but another Kerkar strike - direct from a free-kick - with two minutes remaining put the game beyond doubt.

Al Beloshi was sent off in the 63rd minute after picking up his second yellow card of the game, leaving Emirate with 10 men to protect their lead. The parity in numbers was restored in the 72nd minute when Mohammed al Shehi, the Wahda substitute, picked up his second booking of the night when he dived inside the box. With seconds remaining, Ismail Matar got an unnecessary second booking and a red card for a tempestuous shot after the referee had already blown for offside.

The supporters of Emirate outnumbered Wahda fans in the stands, but that majority mattered little on the field as the President's Cup winners played second fiddle through the opening exchanges. Wahda, the Pro League champions and the UAE's representative for the Club World Cup, to be held in the capital later this year, were on the attack from the opening whistle and could have taken the lead in the first 90 seconds but for a casual effort from Baiano, the Brazilian striker.

Matar floated the ball into the box from a free-kick, but Baiano mistimed his jump; instead the Brazilian stretched his arms out and handled the ball, which promptly earned him a yellow card. Ahmed al Shaji, the Emirate goalkeeper, was kept on his toes thereafter, making four saves in the next 15 minutes. Wahda kept bombarding the Emirate keeper, but he proved himself equal to the task and it was the Ras al Khaimah fans who were celebrating on the half-hour mark following a swift counter from the left by Hadj Bougueche.

The Algerian striker darted into the Wahda territory before relaying the ball for Karim Kerkar, his captain and countryman, whose cross was flapped at by Adel al Hosni, the Wahda goalkeeper, who made a complete hash of his attempted clearance. The ball fell invitingly at the feet of al Beloshi and he swung the ball in through a crowded defence. Kerkar then scored a magnificent goal 12 minutes later to make it 2-0 before the break. The forward sliced through the Wahda defence after receiving a cross from al Beloshi on the left, weaving his way past four defenders before slotting the ball home.

At the other end, Emirates almost took a 3-0 lead in the 62nd minute after a counter-attack that saw al Hosani at the mercy of Nabil Daoudi and Bougueche, but the latter failed to find the target. A minute later, the game changed for Emirates after al Beloshi, the first-goal hero, picked up his second booking of the game and was given his marching orders. Wahda's numerical superiority, however, lasted only nine minutes as Mohammed al Shehi, a second-half substitute, picked up his second yellow card in the 72nd for diving under a challenge in the Emirate penalty area.

Kerkar's second goal of the night was almost as good as his first. Al Hosni stood no chance as the Algerian rifled a free-kick straight into the goalkeeper's top right hand corner. To confound Wahda's miserable night, Matar was dismissed two minutes from full time. arizvi@thenational.ae