x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Mabkhout spurs Jazira after setback

Al Jazira got their title defence of the Etisalat Cup on track last night with a first win in three games.

Al Ahli’s Abdulla Abdulrahman, left, and Ali Saleh Abdulla, of Al Jazira, chase after the ball during first-half action.
Al Ahli’s Abdulla Abdulrahman, left, and Ali Saleh Abdulla, of Al Jazira, chase after the ball during first-half action.

Al Jazira got their title defence of the Etisalat Cup on track last night with a first win in three games.

The Abu Dhabi side rallied from a goal down to secure a 3-1 result over Al Ahli last night at Baniyas Sports Club - Jazira's home venue until after the Fifa Club World Cup next month.

Ali Mabkhout, who came on as a 21st-minute substitute for the injured Tony, the Ivorian forward, cancelled Ahli's lead from Abdullah Abdulqader.

Matias Delgado, the Argentine midfielder, put them ahead in the 72nd minute and Ibrahim Diaky extended the lead a minute into added time.

"Tony's injury early in the game caused some problems on our game plan but we came back better organised in the second half, and the equaliser before the break was crucial for us," said Abel Braga, the Jazira coach.

"Ahli took advantage from our mistakes early in the game. When we returned from the break, we had more control of the midfield and we started to create more chances.

"It was a good result and we deserved it."

The result took Jazira level with Ahli on four points each in Group B.

David O'Leary, the Ahli coach, blamed the absence of national team players.

"We were too disjointed in the second half because we had to use players out of their positions to fill in for those who were on national duty with the Olympic and senior teams," he said. "We didn't have the replacements for them."

Pinga was instrumental in the opening goal.

The Brazilian midfielder's effort from inside the area was blocked by Khalid Saif al Sinani, the Jazira goalkeeper, allowing Abdulqader to knock in the rebound on his follow through in the 27th minute.

Mabkhout had an opportunity to erase Ahli's lead 10 minutes later, but his effort from 12 yards sailed over the bar.

But he made no mistake on a dipping cross from Bare, heading the equaliser four minutes before the break.

Jazira were better organised in the second half. They kept possession and were more often on the attack, and could have taken the lead with a powerful shot from Mabkhout, which was blocked by Saif Yousuf, the Ahli keeper.

Mabkhout would again have had a goal had he reacted quicker to a pass from Delgado.

Delgado, however, made no mistakes when presented with a chance. He rounded off a fine move, involving neat touches from Dada, Diaky and Bare, with a low shot into the corner of the net.

Elsewhere, Ismael Bangoura and Carlos Tenorio scored twice each to lead Al Nasr to a 4-3 thriller over Dubai in group A.

Dubai had raced to a 3-0 lead in the first half hour through two goals by Michael N'dri and another from Aboubaker Kamara, but surrendered in the second half. They were still leading by a goal until the last five minutes before Bangoura and Tenorio struck.

In the late match, Alexandre Oliveira scored in the 40th minute, and Al Wasl made it stand up in a 1-0 victory over Al Shabab.

Wasl jumped to the top of group B on five points, one ahead of Ahli, Jazira and Shabab.

apassela@thenational.ae