x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Jazira get the title party started early

The Pro League leaders beat Al Wasl, Diego Maradona's future club, 4-0 to all but confirm their first ever league title.

Ibrahim Diaky, the Al Jazira captain, leads the team celebrations as their victory virtually assures them of the Pro League title, with Baniyas unlikely to make up the 12 points and 23 goals needed to overhaul the Abu Dhabi side.
Ibrahim Diaky, the Al Jazira captain, leads the team celebrations as their victory virtually assures them of the Pro League title, with Baniyas unlikely to make up the 12 points and 23 goals needed to overhaul the Abu Dhabi side.

Al Wasl 0 // Al Jazira 4

DUBAI // Diego Maradona's arrival at Al Wasl next season will certainly be the envy of many clubs around the world. For the moment though, Abel Braga and his men in white are the cynosure of all eyes in the Pro League.

Al Jazira, unbeaten in the league this season, continued their dominance on the domestic scene with an emphatic 4-0 hammering at Al Wasl last night, the home side playing the final 19 minutes with 10 men after Mohammed Jamal received a red card in trying to deny Jazira a fourth goal.

The victory, their 14th in 18 top-flight matches, has all but sealed the title with four rounds still to play; they had already won their first President's Cup crown last month.

Jazira fans have waited 37 years for the first league title and, after finishing second for three consecutive seasons, nothing could deny them this time.

With four rounds to play, Jazira (46) are 12 points ahead of Baniyas, but they will have to wait until the last game of the season, at home against Dubai on June 5, to get their hands on the trophy.

While every member of Braga's team has played his part through the season, Ricardo Oliveira, the Brazilian striker, was the star of the show last night, scoring twice, while Juma Abdulla was on hand for the other two.

After a scrappy start, Jazira switched gears around the 19th minute when Ibrahim Diaky, the captain, lobbed a free kick towards Abdulla Mousa, who headed toward Bare. The big Brazilian forward failed to get enough purchase on his header, but Majed Naser, the Wasl goalkeeper, still had a tough time keeping the ball out.

Naser was back in action in the 33rd minute, diving in front to scoop out a dipping Matias Delgado free kick. A minute later, Mousa went down theatrically inside the Wasl box, hoping to win a penalty, but was rewarded only with a yellow card. He was a lot more successful a few minutes later, diving again to get Al Wasl's Rashid Essa's name in the referee's book.

Essa almost had the last laugh after this bit of play-acting, but as he dodged his way into the Jazira box, the Wasl winger lost his footing and failed to connect when it mattered most.

With the pace picking up, it was just a matter of time before the first goal came. Unfortunately for Wasl fans, it was Oliveira from the other side who broke the deadlock.

A large chunk of the credit for the opener, however, belonged to Yaser Matar, who put Oliveira in the clear with a precision pass from inside his own half. The Wasl defence were caught napping as the Brazilian raced onto the ball and expertly placed it past Naser.

Six minutes into the second session the Wasl defence went missing again as Bare crossed the ball for Abdulla. His initial header was punched away by Naser. The Wasl keeper, however, had no chance as Abdulla made no mistake with his second effort from close range.

Oliveira added the third goal for Jazira in the 60th minute, making a blistering run down the right after Diaky's through ball and weaved his way past the charging Naser before placing the ball to perfection in the bottom corner.

Jazira could have been four up in the 71st minute as Bare raced towards the Wasl penalty box, with only the keeper in to beat.

Jamal, out-sprinted by the burly Brazilian, saw few options but to drag Bare down. He earned a red card, but his efforts were in vain as Abdulla headed in Jazira's fourth in injury time.

arizvi@thenational.ae