x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Pinga and al Kathiri strikes put Wahda three points clear

Al Wahda go three points clear at the top of the Pro League with a 2-0 victory over Al Wasl.

ABU DHABI // Al Wahda went three points clear at the top of the Pro League with a 2-0 victory over Al Wasl last night. The Wahda goals came from the Brazilian Pinga, who scored from a free kick in the 24th minute, and the substitute Saeed al Kathiri, who added to the lead with a powerful strike from the edge of the box a minute into added time. Wahda's winning margin could have been bigger had Ismail Matar's header been on target and Mohammed al Shehhi's close-range shot not deflected off Majed Naser's outstretched foot past the half hour.

Wahda were the better team in the first half but Wasl came back strongly with a more offensive approach after the interval, using the long ball effectively to feed their speedy forwards, the Brazilian Alexandre Oliveira and the Moroccan Soufiane Alloudi. The Wahda defence stayed solid throughout the game and none of the attacking moves from the visitors threatened the goalkeeper Adel al Hosani in the entire 90 minutes. The plays either broke down or ended up off-target.

The win took Wahda's tally to 43 points, after their closest challenger Al Jazira (40) were held to a 1-1 stalemate by Baniyas and the third-placed Al Ain (35) going down 2-1 at home to Al Dhafra on Thursday. Wasl remain sixth on 24. Wahda took the field without their top scorer, the Brazilian Fernando Baiano, who was suspended for three domestic games by the disciplinary committee of the Football Association for a gesture he made at the referee in their match with Al Dhafra last week.

Wahda are battling on two fronts, preserving their lead in the domestic league and preparing for Wednesday's Asian Champions League home match against last year's finalists, Al Ittihad of Saudi Arabia. apassela@thenational.ae