x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Ismael Matar gets one past Ajman

The UAE's star striker scores with 14 minutes left in the game to lead Al Wahda to a 1-0 win in Abu Dhabi on Thursday night.

Al Wahda players, in white, did not have it easy against a resolute Ajman defence in Abu Dhabi on Thursday night.
Al Wahda players, in white, did not have it easy against a resolute Ajman defence in Abu Dhabi on Thursday night.

ABU DHABI // Ismail Matar has been a hero for his club and country on several occasions. And on Thursday night he underlined it with a stunning goal to lift Al Wahda to a 1-0 victory over Ajman in the Pro League.

Matar picked up a through pass from Magrao, the Brazilian midfielder, stepped inside the box and unleashed a hard shot just inside the near post to beat Ali Mesmari, the Ajman goalkeeper, at the Al Nahyan Stadium.

Wahda looked a transformed team in the second half. They were on the offensive for almost all of the period but failed to solve the resolute Ajman defence as their moves either broke down or their efforts at the goal were weak.

Saeed Al Kathiri's effort from 30 yards cannoned off the crossbar in the opening minute of the second period. And Mesmari did well going full stretch to his right to push out a rocket from a Basheer Saeed free kick six minutes later.

Matar's curling shot from the edge of the box went agonisingly wide as Wahda imposed their will in the second half.

A goal seemed imminent and it came 14 minutes from time when Matar slotted home the goal that handed Ajman their first defeat this season in eight matches from all competitions.

Wahda scored immediately after Fernando Baiano came on in place of Al Kathiri. The Brazilian forward and the club's top scorer in the last two seasons did not have any part to play in the only goal of the match, but his presence may have put the defence under pressure.

Ajman sorely missed the services of their star forward Ibrahima Toure, who was ineligible to play following the Asian Football Confederation's decision to carry forward a two-match ban that he had picked up when playing for Sepahan of Iran in the 2011 Asian Champions League.

The Senegalese striker had hit the net nine times in seven games in all competitions. He may have made all the difference on the night. "I wonder about this decision," said Abdul Kader, Ajman's Iraqi coach. "Why now? He had played with us before, and now he can't play?"

Mutaz Abdulla, the Wahda goalkeeper, made an excellent save when he pushed out the ball from under Waleed Ahmed Hassan's feet from a one-on-one situation. Karim Kerkar, the Algerian international, was wide from inside the box after he weaved his way past a couple of defenders as Ajman were in front on the early exchanges.

Abdulla came to the rescue for the host team again when he neutralized a shot from Olivier Tia, the Ivorian forward.

The home team could have gone into the break with the lead had Al Kathiri been on target from 10 yards. The Wahda forward fired it wide on a ball that fell on his path on a cross from Hugo, the Brazilian midfielder.

The result took Wahda's tally to seven while Ajman, promoted this year, remained on three after opening league play with three successive draws.

Khader was left to rue missed scoring opportunities in the first half.

He said: "We had several chances to score early but we didn't take them and suffered at the end."

 

apassela@thenational.ae

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