Everton Ribeiro enjoys perfect debut to lead Al Ahli past Sharjah
DUBAI // It would be a bit amiss to suggest Everton Ribeiro needs to prove anything.
The two trophies for the best player of the Brazilian league over the past two seasons are enough evidence. The offers from Manchester United, Monaco and Milan, and interests from a horde of other top European clubs, are obvious testimonies to his brilliance.
The Al Ahli fans last night seemed to be waiting to see if he could live up to the hype. The Brazilian international, 25, wasted little time in showing them. Like a thoroughbred, he bolted off the blocks as he was substituted for Habib Fardan in the 58th minute.
The noise in the stands rose by several decibels and then turned into a huge roar when Ribeiro tapped home Luis Jimenez’s cross past the brilliant Sharjah goalkeeper Mohammed Yousuf.
“Ribeiro came and closed the game for us,” said Cosmin Olaroiu, the Ahli coach. “He has a lot of quality and is a big player. He has trained only two times with us and is not in the best shape physically, but he has shown his quality.”
With Sharjah looking defiant and Yousuf not letting anything past him, Ahli needed that kind of quality to get a positive result on the night.
Before Ribeiro’s appearance on the pitch that had looked highly unlikely.
The visiting goalkeeper had made three great stops in the final minutes of the first half and showed good anticipation in the 63rd minute to block Ribeiro’s audacious flick with the outside of his left boot.
Seconds later Rodriguinho picked up his second yellow card of the night for a foul on Salmeen Khamis and Sharjah’s resistance crumbled thereafter.
Ribeiro broke the deadlock in the 72nd minute and then Carlos Munoz added another a minute from time, heading home Ismail Al Hammadi’s cross.
The Sharjah coach Paulo Bonamigo described Rodriguinho’s red card as the turning point for his team.
“We had come here with a plan, to play on counterattacks,” the Brazilian said, “and the strategy was working well until we lost a player.
“Rodriguinho was the man who was supposed to provide the ball for the counter attacks. So he was a key player for us and his red card really hurt our plans.”
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