Al Ain make ambitions known with 4-0 drubbing of Al Wahda

Zlatko Dalic, the Al Ain coach, hailed his players for a “standout performance” that ended Al Wahda’s 20-match run without defeat since January last season, reports Amith Passela.
Ibrahim Diaky got the ball rolling for Al Ain as the hosts racked up three goals before half time at the Hazza bin Zayed Stadium against Al Wahda. Satish Kumar / The National
Ibrahim Diaky got the ball rolling for Al Ain as the hosts racked up three goals before half time at the Hazza bin Zayed Stadium against Al Wahda. Satish Kumar / The National

AL AIN // Zlatko Dalic, the Al Ain coach, hailed his players for a “standout performance” that ended Al Wahda’s 20-match run without defeat since January last season.

The 11-time league champions hammered Wahda 4-0 on Wednesday night at the Hazza bin Zayed Stadium to underline their status as the new favourites for the Arabian Gulf League title.

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Ibrahim Diaky scored an early goal to provide the perfect start for the Garden City club. Fayez Juma doubled it seven minutes later before Miroslav Stoch scored on either side of half time to complete the rout.

“We went with the objective of winning but didn’t expect the kind of result we achieved at the end, particularly when we didn’t have five to six key players,” Dalic said.

“Of course, it is a result we can be very happy of because it can increase the confidence of our players.

“It was really a standout performance for which I can only congratulate my players.

“However, winning one game is not our long-term objective. Our ambition is to win the league, and for this reason we need to keep working harder and continue to achieve good results.”

Al Ain sorely missed the services of some of their key players, but Wahda had problems of their own.

Sebastian Tagliabue, their leading scorer, was granted permission to travel to his native Argentina to be with his ailing brother.

Adel Al Hosani, the Wahda goalkeeper who had been outstanding in recent matches, was serving a one-match ban for accumulating three yellow cards. Al Ain missed their suspended Ghanaian striker Asamoah Gyan, as well as the injured Emirati midfielder Omar Abdulrahman and Congolese winger Jires Kembo-Ekoko.

Jose Peseiro, the Wahda coach, did not look for excuses and said it was one of those days when everything goes against a team.

“We didn’t play well in the first half yet we did come back stronger after the break, but after falling back 3-0, it is never easy to come back against a team like Al Ain,” he said.

“I think we had a remarkable run of being undefeated in 20 league games and this kind of setback was bound to happen. We can only get back and continue with our team-building exercise.”

Diaky controlled a long ball from Helal Saeed with his chest, got past the Wahda centre-back Hussain Fadhel and stabbed into the back of the net for the opening goal.

Stoch rolled a free kick towards Mohammed Fayez, who sent a dipping cross from the left flank for Juma to head home Al Ain’s second.

It could have been 3-0 for the hosts if not for Wahda’s right back Adel Abdulla, who made an excellent goal-line clearance by heading out Mohanad Salem’s effort off a corner.

Al Ain did not have to wait long for their third goal, though. Stoch collected a through pass from the South Korean Lee Myung-joo and rounded Wahda centre-back Hamdan Al Kamali before unleashing a powerful shot to the roof of the net shortly before the break.

The Slovakian international added his second when set up with a through pass from Diaky from a counter-attack.

Star performer Miroslav Stoch (Al Ain) – It was hard to single out one Al Ain player, but with two goals and a hand in another, the Slovakian international stood out.

Underperformer Ismail Matar (Al Wahda) – The ageing captain was in his second start of the season, and was replaced in 68th minute.

Key moment The Wahda defence was caught napping early and Ibrahim Diaky made most of it with an early goal that provided Al Ain with the perfect start.

Al Ain rating 7/10 They had the game in control after scoring from the chances they created in the first half. A 3-0 lead at half time was beyond the reach of a comeback against a team of Al Ain’s calibre.

Al Wahda rating 4/10 Two early goals sent the panic siren ringing for Wahda. They were completely outplayed in the first half and were under pressure for the remainder of the game.

Our verdict With Wednesday’s display, and two games in hand, Al Ain look to be the front-runners in the race. They moved to fifth on 20 points, just two behind the leaders and with two postponed games left against Fujairah and Al Shabab.

apassela@thenational.ae

Follow us on Twitter at SprtNationalUAE

Published: December 10, 2014 04:00 AM

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