x Abu Dhabi, UAE Friday 21 July 2017

Rabea keeps Al Wahda at bay

Ismail Rabea's outstanding show between the posts helped Al Shabab end their four-game win drought with a 2-1 victory over Al Wahda.

Ismail Rabea's outstanding show between the posts helped Al Shabab end their four-game win drought with a 2-1 victory over Al Wahda. The goalkeeper's spectacular saves denied Al Wahda's spirited bid for three points after their defeat to Al Ain at home in the last round of the Etisalat Pro League. Issa Mohammed put the hosts ahead in the 22nd minute, but Ismail Matar equalised 14 minutes later. Suroor Saleem, however, put Shabab in the lead once again in the 59th minute and Rabea then ensured they walked out winners for the first time in five attempts. Shabab's first goal came through a man who wasn't supposed to be out on the pitch that early. But Essam Dahi had to be taken off the field in the 16th minute with a gashed eyebrow after he collided with his captain Marcos Assuncao. Issa Mohammed was rushed in as replacement and the forced substitution brought dividends almost immediately. The veteran defender rose high to nod in a corner by Carlos Renato in the 22nd minute. Their advantage, however, did not last long when Matar equalised with a brilliant lunging header in the 36th minute. Off-balance, in the air and not in the best position, the 2008 Asian Player of the Year runners-up placed Andre Pinga's floater from the left to perfection. That was the only time Rabea was wrong-footed in the game. He denied Matar twice in the first 10 minutes of the second half with a couple of outstanding saves, the likes of which earned him the league's Best Goalkeeper award last season. Wahda were dominating the proceedings through that period, but a swift counter put the hosts ahead in the 59th minute. Saleem Saad sprinted down the right and crossed the ball, and Mguni slipped in a volley which was blocked by the Wahda keeper. Suroor was, however, on hand to put home the rebound. At the other end, Rabea continued his heroics, diving low to his right to stop Pinga's stinging free-kick. He even stopped a deflection off a post in the 83rd minute. arizvi@thenational.ae