x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Shabab capitalise on inept Sharjah

Al Sharjah squander an early lead to crash to an embarrassing 3-1 home defeat against Al Shabab.

Toni Oliveira, the Al Sharjah coach, had promised a stiff resistance against Al Shabab in their AFC Champions League clash. The planned fight, however, never materialised as the hosts crumbled after taking an early lead to crash to an embarrassing 3-1 defeat. The score line does not really give a true picture of Sharjah's ineptness. They were a lot worse in reality and were booed off the pitch by the home fans. The goals came through Nassir al Shamrani, who equalised from the penalty spot in the 20th minute after Anderson had put the hosts ahead in the 11th minute. Abdoh Autef added the second in the 41st minute and Marcelo Camacho made it 3-1 in the 48th. Sharjah had made a promising start when Jean Carlos and Anderson combined to keep the visitors wary. Carlos, one of a handful of Sharjah players who could hold their head high after the match, was a constant threat. His efforts should have bore fruit in the 9th minute when the Brazilian twinkle-toed his way past a couple of defenders and floated the ball for Anderson, but the marksman's header drifted harmlessly over the bar. Two minutes later Anderson made no mistake with his next chance, rising high to nod home Carlos' curling free kick. The Sharjah advantage, however, lasted just nine minutes as the referee Tan Hai gifted the visitors with a questionable penalty. As al Shamrani sprinted into the box, the Sharjah keeper Rashid Hassan dived for the ball at the Saudi striker's feet, tripping him in the act. The incident looked to have happened outside the box, but the referee had no hesitation in pointing to the spot and a grateful al Shamrani converted for the equaliser. Four minutes from the break, Autef doubled the tally for Shabab after been allowed a free rein by the Sharjah defenders. He enjoyed enough time and space to pick his spot and he placed the ball deftly to the left of the keeper after toying with the defence. Ahmed Ateef almost added the third seconds before the break, but a desperate lunge from Hassan kept the ball out. Shabab, however, did not have to wait long to add to their tally as Camacho entered the box unchallenged in the 48th minute and finished off without a worry. The Sharjah defence were beaten again in the 69th minute, but Hassan came to their rescue, keeping out al Shamrani's stinging volley from close range. The woodwork came to Sharjah's rescue in the 83rd minute after Camacho had pierced the defence with a stinging volley. arizvi@thenational.ae