Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 14 December 2019

Asian Champions League: Al Wahda crash out after defeat to doughty Al Nassr

Abu Dhabi side's six-match unbeaten run comes to an end after being beaten 3-2 at home by Saudi Arabian club

Al Wahda crashed out of the Asian Champions League following a 3-2 defeat at the hands of Al Nassr in Abu Dhabi on Monday night.

The Arabian Gulf League side went into the second-leg, last-16 match with an away goal advantage – the first leg ended 1-1 – and therefore needed only to draw 0-0 to reach the quarter-finals of the continental championship. But Abderazak Hamdallah struck once and Giuliano twice to seal the deal for Saudi Arabian club Nassr, who won the tie 4-3 on aggregate.

Defeat, Wahda’s first in seven Champions League games, would have been even more painful for the home team given that at one point they were leading 1-0 thanks to a 27th-minute goal from Mohamed Al Menhali. By the time, a Wahda player scored again – Sebastian Tagliabue on 79 minutes – the tie was all but done and dusted.

This was Wahda’s eighth defeat in 14 games against Nassr; they have beaten them just twice in the competition and drawn four times. So, even though they had won both their games against the opposition at home, history was really not on their side ahead of Monday’s match.

On a muggy night, however, it was the capital club that began well as they created a handful of early scoring opportunities. Leonardo lobbed a cross from inside the area for Al Menhali to jab a right-footer to the back of the net and spark celebrations among the home fans.

However, the visitors hit back twice within five minutes to go into the break with a 2-1 lead. In fact, they converted the the only two scoring attempts they had on offer in the first 45 minutes of play.

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates - August 12, 2019: Sebastian Tagliabue of Al Wahda looks unhappy during the Asian Champions League round 16 return leg between Al Wahda of the UAE and Al Nassr of Saudi Arabia. Monday the 12th of August 2019. Al Wadha, Abu Dhabi. Chris Whiteoak / The National
Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates - August 12, 2019: Sebastian Tagliabue of Al Wahda looks unhappy during the Asian Champions League round 16 return leg between Al Wahda of the UAE and Al Nassr of Saudi Arabia. Monday the 12th of August 2019. Al Wadha, Abu Dhabi. Chris Whiteoak / The National

Hamdallah expertly headed a right cross from Fahad Jumayah to the right corner of the net on 41 minutes, and then, with an excellent back-heel pass, the Moroccan forward set up Giuliano to score the second in added time of the first half.

Early in the second period, Tagliabue received a golden opportunity to draw level only for the Argentine forward to blast a short cross from Nicolas Milesi over the crossbar.

Tagliabue had another chance minutes later, but he was brought down by Nassr goalkeeper Brad Jones as he made a charge for the ball just outside the area. The Australian did well to push out ensuing free kick from Ismail Matar.

Wahda’s comeback hopes all but evaporated when Brazilian Giuliano struck again, on 62 minutes, leaving the home team needing to score three times to win the tie. They nearly closed the gap when Khalil Ibrahim’s stinging effort from 30 metres hit the top of the bar.

Tagliabue’s strike minutes later to make it 3-2 was too little, too late.

Wahda were denied consolation at the end of the game, which saw tempers flare, when a Leonardo goal was denied three minutes from time with the linesman raising the flag for off-side.

Updated: August 12, 2019 10:40 PM

SHARE

SHARE