x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Five-star performance from Al Shabab as Al Jazira slump to worst defeat of the season

Al Jazira coach Luis Milla is still searching for his first Pro League win since arriving at the Abu Dhabi club in February.

Luiz Fernando Da Silva, centre, finds himself surrounded by three Al Shabab defenders in their 5-1 loss to the hosts on Monday afternoon.
Luiz Fernando Da Silva, centre, finds himself surrounded by three Al Shabab defenders in their 5-1 loss to the hosts on Monday afternoon.

Al Shabab 5 Al Jazira 1
Al Shabab Player Ciel 56’, 69’, Bruno 60’, Qassim 84’, Obaid 90’+1
Al Jazira Mabkhout 62’

DUBAI // In the visiting stands, a small group of Al Jazira enthusiasts kept banging on their drums and stretching their vocal chords through the dreary first half. The rest of the stadium was eerily quiet.

After the break, though, there was a dramatic change as four quick goals, between the 56th and 69th minutes, brought the Maktoum bin Rashid Stadium to life and there was not a dull moment thereafter.

In the end, though, the Jazira fans had to return home bitterly disappointed as Al Shabab scored an emphatic 5-1 win, with Brazilian forward Ciel contributing two of goals for the hosts.

The defeat, Jazira's worst of the season, means Luis Milla is still searching for his first Pro League win since arriving at the Abu Dhabi club in February to replace Paulo Bonamigo.

Overall, he has just one win from 10 matches - against Al Wahda in the semi-final of the Etisalat Cup.

The result is bound to increase the pressure on Milla, but the Spaniard refused to answer questions about his future at the club.

"First of all, I would like to apologise to the Jazira fans, who came here from Abu Dhabi to watch their team, especially for the way our team played in the second half," Milla said.

"We have played a very bad game. We are professionals and we know that results are what matter, but we will keep working hard, keep working to find the spirit of the team, a spirit where we help each other because sometimes they don't seem to be playing as a team."

It certainly is a bitter result for Jazira and Milla, especially after the encouraging performance of the team is recent games. They had made a promising start against Shabab, with Matias Delgado coming close to putting them ahead in the eighth minute, but Shabab goalkeeper Ismail Rabea did well to punch the ball over.

That proved about the only highlight of the opening 45 minutes.

The second half, however, was a different story, with both teams determined to break the deadlock.

Thankfully for the home fans, Shabab did it first, as Ciel played a one-two with Luiz Henrique before finishing with a stunning left-foot effort.

Four minutes later, they had two on the board after Edgar Bruno slipped past two defenders to finish Henrique's cross.

Ali Mabkhout pulled one back for the visitors in the 62nd minute, blasting home Delgado's deft cross, and Jazira then went looking for the equaliser.

That opened up space at the back for Ciel and Henrique to exploit and the duo added Shabab's third in the 69th minute from a counter attack, off a corner kick at the other end, with Henrique making a run from his own half before passing for Ciel to tap home. Hamdan Qassim made it 4-1 after 84 minutes, finding the target inside a crowded box, and substitute Essa Obaid did the same in the first minute of injury time to complete Shabab's biggest win of the season.

Marcos Paqueta, however, claims it was not as easy for his team as the score line suggests.

"The score does not reflect the reality of the game, because it was a very tough match," the Shabab coach said.

"While preparing for this game, we had detected a few weaknesses in the Jazira team and the spaces they leave on the pitch.

"We managed to use these spaces very well. We created many chances and crucially, we managed to score from most of them. The important thing was scoring the first goal because that made our mission a lot easier.

"Jazira had to open up as they went looking for the equaliser, which then gave us a lot of space, and we used it to counter attack."

Man of the match Luiz Henrique (Al Shabab)

arizvi@thenational.ae

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