x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Luis Milla irked after Morimoto helps hosts Al Nasr hold back his Al Jazira side

Milla resents mentality at Al Jazira while counterpart Zenga believes his side had more opportunities and should have made it count.

Leonardo Lima of Nasr (No 27) looks to wrest the ball from Al Jazira defenders. Ashraf Umrah / Al Ittihad
Leonardo Lima of Nasr (No 27) looks to wrest the ball from Al Jazira defenders. Ashraf Umrah / Al Ittihad

DUBAI // The official team sheet for last night's clash between Al Nasr and Al Jazira listed Edson Gonzaga Filho of Brazil as head coach of the visiting team from Abu Dhabi.

The way Luis Milla's reign has gone so far, with four defeats from eight previous games, not many would have been surprised if that was true. But it was not.

Milla was in his seat in the dugout as the two teams walked out for the game. The chances of the Spaniard keeping his job until the end of the season took a blow though after his team wasted a 2-0 lead, then were left thanking a Ricardo Oliveira equaliser two minutes from time for giving them a 3-3 draw.

Milla's record at Jazira now reads: nine games, one win, four defeats and four draws. And the coach conceded the results are not definitely living up to his employer's expectations.

"We know it's a club where they want the best," Milla said.

"We have tried to do our job as best as we can. We have also tried to bring in new players, younger players who can give the team a new spirit.

"We had the game in our control at 2-0, but I get the impression that when we receive a goal, the team is not ready to stand up again and we have to change this mentality."

The game, played through a blinding sandstorm and heavy rain, was not easy on the players. They could barely keep their eyes open in the opening period and were forced to rush to the sidelines at regular intervals to wash the sand off their faces and out of their eyes.

Ali Mabkhout, however, faced few problems as he put Jazira ahead in the 41st minute. One of the rising stars of UAE football, Mabkhout forced his way past Mahmoud Darwish and then wrong-footed Helal Saeed before volleying past the Nasr keeper.

As the players went in for the break, a heavy downpour replaced the shamal, forcing fans to seek shelter. But one of the younger ones from them did not seem to care much, running out to the pitch to congratulate Oliveira after the Brazilian had made it 2-0 three minutes into the second half.

Four minutes later, it was the turn of the home fans to celebrate as Takayuki Morimoto made it 2-1 with a deft finish.

The pacy Japanese forward then struck the equaliser in the 76th minute, clipping a bouncing ball on the half volley past a startled Ali Kasheif.

Four minutes later, the home side were 3-2 up as Bruno Correa slid in to guide home Younus Ahmed's cross. Oliveira, however, made sure Jazira would not return home empty-handed from the game with scorching finish two minutes from time.

"We had the game in our hands," said Walter Zenga, the Nasr coach. "We had the three points, but unfortunately we did not get it.

"I don't think Jazira had more than three chances and they scored from all of them. We had many more chances and when you are 3-2 up and then end up with a 3-3 draw, it feels like a loss and not a draw."

arizvi@thenational.ae

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