AL AHLI 0 EMIRATES 1
Emirates - Henrique 62'
Red card - Majed Hassan (Al Ahli)
DUBAI // Mirel Radoi was booed off the pitch by the home fans at the Rashid Stadium on Sunday night as a lacklustre Al Ahli stuttered to a 1-0 defeat against Emirates.
It was the defending champion's second defeat in nine AGL matches this season, with Luiz Henrique scoring the winner for the Emirates in the 61st minute.
Ahli have played four draws as well during an insipid defence of their title, leaving coach Cosmin Olaroiu and the club management facing growing heat from the fans for their decision to replace Hugo Viana with Radoi in the last transfer window.
Olaroiu conceded Radoi needed to lift his game, but the Ahli coach has urged the fans not to abandon the team in this “difficult stage”.
“The foreign players, of course, are expected to play a much bigger role,” he said. “They need to work harder, show more personality, take more responsibility. If they cannot do it, the fans will react.
“The Ahli fans have always supported us and at this difficult stage, we need them to be on our side.”
Radoi was not the only underperformer from the Ahli side last night. The entire team, barring Ahmed Khalil, looked listless.
On the other hand, Emirates, who lost 2-1 to Ahli in an Arabian Gulf Cup game last month, were impressive with their crisp, short-passing game and the excellent coordination between the four foreign players – Henrique, Rodrigo Souza, German Herrera and Issam Erraki.
Henrique was the best of those four and deservedly got the winner. Playing a clever one-two with Alhussain Saleh, the Brazilian managed to sneak past the Ahli defence unnoticed in the 61st minute and slotted home after sending Majed Naser the wrong way.
“Explaining our performance tonight is very hard,” Olaroiu said. “We were very slow, hesitant and made a lot of mistakes. We won the last game [against Emirates] in the Arabian Gulf Cup with many of our players absent, but tonight we lost. That is why it is very difficult to explain.
“We apologise to the fans not being able to get full points. When you lose, you have to take responsibility and I take full responsibility.”
Paulo Comelli, the Emirates coach, credited a better defensive performance for their win and said: “I believe the team has played well right through the season, even in the matches we lost.”
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