x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Super sub Diaz is the last gasp hero

Andre Diaz scored twice 10 minutes from time to lead 10-man Al Ain to a deserved victory over Al Wasl on Thursday.

Jori Bezika of Al Wasl, left, and Esmaiel Ahmed of Al Ain battle for the ball.
Jori Bezika of Al Wasl, left, and Esmaiel Ahmed of Al Ain battle for the ball.

Al Ain // Andre Diaz scored twice 10 minutes from time to lead 10-man Al Ain to a deserved victory over Al Wasl in Thursday's Etisalat Pro League clash at the Khalifa bin Zayed Stadium. The Brazilian, who replaced the Senegalese striker Andre Senghor in the 65th minute, opened the scoring when he headed a cross from the right from Ali Wehaibi into the far corner to break the deadlock in the 80th minute.

He then ensured the points would be staying with Ain as he converted a penalty kick two minutes from time to secure the victory. The result keeps Ain four points off the top of the table and still strongly in contention for the championship when the league completes it's break and resumes in February. Ain's hopes of earning full points seemed to have received a massive blow late in the first half when Fares Juma was red carded.

He was dismissed after he tried to jump over the grounded goalkeeper Majid Nasser as he tried to pull out of a challenge, but only succeeded in stepping on his head. Until that Wasl did a good containing job to keep the Ain attack on check. Jorge Valdivia was the architect of the home team's forays into the visitor's territory and the best chance they had to break the deadlock was from a free-kick from the Chilean international that went across the goalmouth, but agonisingly just out of reach for Senghor.

The numerical disadvantage didn't halt Ain's offensive play in the second half, although they were grateful to goalkeeper Motaz Abdulla who made a superb stop to keep out the Iranian Iman Mobali's dipping free-kick to keep the scores level. And immediately after, Nasser made a brilliant save at the other end to deny Valdivia, who got past a couple of defenders before launching a neat strike at the goal from inside the area.

Valdiva continued to pose problems with his deft free kicks but Nasser, the UAE international, was equal to the task with some outstanding work between the posts. He palmed away a Valdivia free-kick approaching the hour and continued with his good work until Diaz made his dramatic arrival to change the game. Winfried Schaefer had started with a sole striker Senghor and replaced him past the hour with Diaz.

The visitors trying to capitalise on the numerical advantage made a few raids but none looked threatening. It seemed as if only Ain were playing for three points as they kept the tempo of scoring until the end, and were rewarded with Diaz's late heroic cameo. apassela@thenational.ae