Al Wasl let slip golden opportunity to be held at home to Sharjah

Involved in three-way race for top-three finish in Arabian Gulf League, Al Wasl suffer setback at Zabeel Stadium on Saturday night, writes John McAuley.
Hamad Ibrahim of Sharjah in action during the Arabian Gulf League football match between Al Wasl and Sharjah at Zabeel Stadium. 16 April 2016. Photo: Arshad Khan / Arabian Gulf League
Hamad Ibrahim of Sharjah in action during the Arabian Gulf League football match between Al Wasl and Sharjah at Zabeel Stadium. 16 April 2016. Photo: Arshad Khan / Arabian Gulf League

Al Wasl 1

De Lima 30’

Sharjah 1

Wanderley 71’

Red card Waheed Ismail (Al Wasl), Abdullah Ahmed (Sharjah)

DUBAI // Involved in a three-way race for a top-three finish in the Arabian Gulf League, Al Wasl suffered a huge setback at the Zabeel Stadium on Saturday night.

The Dubai club, vying for third alongside Al Nasr and Al Wahda, let slip a golden opportunity to move into the table’s final Asian Champions League spot, held at home by Sharjah to a disappointing 1-1 draw.

It was the least the visitors, still involved in the battle at the bottom, deserved. Wasl should have been better. They simply needed to be.

At first, it seemed to be going to script. Fabio de Lima gave Wasl a first-half lead, pouncing on Hugo Viana’s rangy pass and capitalising on Abdullah Ahmed’s hesitation to toe-poke past Mohammed Yousif in the Sharjah goal. It was the Brazilian’s 18th goal of the campaign.

Yet he has a prolific rival at Sharjah in compatriot Wanderley, the livewire striker who bagged his 15th goal of the season from the penalty spot. With 20 minutes left on the clock, Ricardinho advanced into the Wasl area and prompted Abdullah Al Juneibi to throw out his leg. Ricardinho promptly threw himself over it.

If there was any contact, it was minimal, but nevertheless Wanderley slotted home the resultant penalty. He had a goal disallowed soon after, a potential winner that Wasl could not argue their opponents merited.

Both sides concluded the match with 10 men: captain Waheed Ismail sent off for the hosts, Ahmed for Sharjah. In the end, Wasl will take little solace in moving fourth, in exchanging places with Wahda.

The two face-off on Friday. Wasl will have to improve significantly if they are to cling to their Champions League dream.

Man of the match: Wanderley The Sharjah forward was a constant thorn in the home side, always providing an outlet for the visitors. Hit the post, saw one effort well saved and was denied a second goal by the assistant referee.

What they said

Gabriel Calderon, Wasl coach: “We lost two very very important points for us. We controlled the match, made one mistake and the other team make it 1-1. In this league anyone is possible to win any match, there are no easy games, but we have to continue fighting until the end of the season.​“

Abdulaziz Al Anbari, Sharjah coach: “It was a fair result. In the first half, Al Wasl were the better side, but we came back and were able to score more although we didn’t. The draw is a good result, we were much better than our last match, which is a very good thing for us. That’s why we’re happy.”

The National’s verdict Sharjah were justifiably pleased with a precious point, but Wasl should have had enough talent to get the victory. A significant opportunity missed in the race for a top-three finish.

jmcauley@thenational.ae

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Published: April 16, 2016 04:00 AM

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