x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Pro League: Al Ahli turn neutral venue into a positive outcome against Al Wahda

Playing their home game at a neutral venue Al Ahli still manages to beat Al Wahda to take sole possession of second place in the Pro League, reports Ahmed Rizvi.

Al Wahda’s Mohamed Al Shehhi, left, tries keeping Ismail Al Hammadi of Al Ahli off the ball.
Al Wahda’s Mohamed Al Shehhi, left, tries keeping Ismail Al Hammadi of Al Ahli off the ball.

Al Ahli 2 Al Wahda 0
Al Ahli A Hussain 66’, I Al Hammadi 72’

Red cards Yousuf Mohammed (Al Ahli)

DUBAI // Playing their home game at a neutral venue, without any of their supporters allowed to attend and watch, Al Ahli still managed to beat Al Wahda 2-0 to move clear in second place in the Pro League.

After a goalless first half, Adnan Hussain and Ismail Al Hammadi struck six minutes apart to help Ahli secure all three points, taking their tally to 45 points, which keeps them three ahead of third-placed Baniyas.

The hosts, however, finished the game with 10 men after their Lebanese defender Yousuf Mohammed was shown a straight red card in the fourth minute of added time for dissent, which means he will miss two of Ahli's four remaining matches.

Quique Sanchez Flores, the Ahli coach, was far from happy with that decision of the referee.

"It was a strange decision. During the game, the players and the referees exchange words. I can understand if you give the player a yellow card because it is the end of the match," he said. "Ahli has been receiving a lot of hits in the last few weeks. But we will keep fighting, trying to win every game."

Ahli were forced to play this game at Al Shabab's Rashid Stadium due to the penalty imposed by the Football Association's Disciplinary Committee following their abandoned league game against Al Ain two weeks ago when a referee's assistant was injured by an object thrown by a fan.

Sanchez Flores said he was worried the absence of their fans would affect the performance of his team and his fears seemed to well founded as Ahli got off to a sluggish start. The second half was a different story, however, and took the lead in the 66th minute.

Set up by Al Hammadi, Hussain raced through on goal, sidestepped the advancing Wahda goalkeeper and then neatly slotted home.

That goal was Hussain's final touch of the game and he was replaced by Portuguese winger Ricardo Quaresma. It was Al Hammadi, however, who hoodwinked his way through the Wahda defence to make it 2-0. Weaving past bodies, the diminutive winger gave Adel Al Hosni no chance with a powerful finish.

"Ahli deserved to win this game, deserve to be second in the league and possibly go on to play the Champions League," said Branko Ivankovic, the Wahda coach. "I cannot complain about my players. For most part of the game, we were on level with Ahli, but they had a bit more quality in those crucial times and managed to get those two goals."

Man of the match Ismail Al Hammadi (Al Ahli)

 

arizvi@thenational.ae

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