x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Al Jazira defence holds firm during Asian Champions League win in Riyadh

Walter Zenga's side clean up mistakes at the back that proved costly against Al Rayyan

Al Jazira's Jucilei da Silva celebrates after scoring against Saudi Arabia's Al Shabab during their Asian Champions League Group A match at King Fahad International Stadium in Riyadh on March 11, 2014. Fayez Nureldine / AFP
Al Jazira's Jucilei da Silva celebrates after scoring against Saudi Arabia's Al Shabab during their Asian Champions League Group A match at King Fahad International Stadium in Riyadh on March 11, 2014. Fayez Nureldine / AFP

Al Jazira went clear on top of Group A after a resounding 3-1 victory over Al Shabab of Saudi Arabia in the Asian Champions League at the King Fahd International Stadium in Riyadh on Tuesday night.

Ali Mabkhout opened the scoring in the sixth minute and Abdulla Qasem doubled the lead five minutes later.

Ahmed Ibrahim Ateef pulled one back in the second half for Al Shabab before Jucilei da Silva scored a third for the visitors.

“The two early goals set up the game for us,” Ali Kasheif, the Jazira goalkeeper, said after the match.

“We got a lucky goal and the second gave us the perfect start. It was an excellent result from an away game. Yet we need to keep playing as we did tonight, if not better, to consolidate our ­position.

“It is only the second game and we just need to keep working hard, now that we have got off to a good start. I think we were better organised in this game than the previous one, when we had to hang on to our lead.”

It was a similar start to what Jazira had against Al Rayyan of Qatar in the opening match of the continental championship two weeks ago, when they scored twice early before holding on to win 3-2.

In that game they had to survive a scare after conceding two quick goals, but this time around they did not have such worries with a more organised defence and some solid work between the posts from Kasheif.

The first goal was a gift for Jazira. Sayyaf Al Bishi, the Shabab defender, sent a careless back pass to the goalkeeper Waleed Abdullah and Mabkhout intercepted to score at the near post.

Ahmed Al Gheilani intercepted another pass a few minutes later, took the play inside the box and then slipped a pass towards Qasem to score at the far post.

Kasheif made a couple of excellent saves to preserve the lead until half time. He made a reflex save to push out a bullet from Fernando Menegazzo that deflected off Jazira’s Korean defender Shin Hyung-min and then blocked a fiercely struck free kick from just outside the box from Hassan Fallatah.

Ateef pulled one back for the hosts with a low, 30-yard shot after exchanging passes with Macnelly Berrio shortly after the break. But Jucilei restored the two-goal cushion three minutes later after exchanging passes with Abdelaziz Barrada.

Jazira top Group A with six points, three clear of Rayyan and Shabab. Esteghlal have zero.

apassela@thenational.ae

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