Al Wasl put four past Al Dhafra to earn Rodolfo Arruabarrena first AGL victory

Al Wasl dug deep to dig out a first Arabian Gulf League victory for Rodolfo Arruabarrena.
Fabio de Lima, second left, celebrates after scoring Al Wasl's equalising goal against Al Dhafra. Tom Dulat / Getty Images
Fabio de Lima, second left, celebrates after scoring Al Wasl's equalising goal against Al Dhafra. Tom Dulat / Getty Images

Al Wasl 4-1 Al Dhafra

Wasl: De Lima 38’, Caio 44’, 45’, Khamis 60’

Dhafra: Diop 28’

STORY OF MATCH

DUBAI // Al Wasl dug deep to dig out a first Arabian Gulf League victory for Rodolfo Arruabarrena.

The former Boca Juniors manager, a summer replacement for Gabriel Calderon, is understandably still getting to grips with a new football and a new language, but at least his new side possesses enough talent to help smooth the transition.

A goal down to Al Dhafra at the Zabeel Stadium on Saturday night, Wasl rebounded spectacularly to score four without reply and glean all three points. Each time, Arruabarrena punched the air in delight; Dhafra had been punch drunk by the Argentine’s Brazilian pair.

More from the Arabian Gulf League:

• Abu Dhabi derby: Ends a stalemate as hosts Wahda spurn too many chances against Jazira

• Results: Rodrigo Lima settles Dubai derby for Al Ahli as Al Ain thrash Emirates

• Talking points: Everton Ribeiro the star at Al Ahli, Al Ain need more players

The visitors were one goal to the good before Fabio De Lima and Caio came to the fore. On 28 minutes, and after recent recruit Helder Barbosa had hit the post for the hosts, Makhete Diop struck at the other end to side-foot home Omar Khrbin’s expert centre. It was a captain’s contribution, and lifted the Senegalese striker’s tally to 68 in 98 league appearances for Dhafra.

Wasl were level 10 minutes later, though, when De Lima curled a low free-kick from 30 yards inside the Dhafra post. By half-time, his team had completely turned around the match, courtesy of his compatriot. First, Caio pounced on Barbosa’s spilled shot, then deep into injury time he rose brilliantly to direct Khalid Sabeel’s deep cross past Abdullah Sultan in the Dhafra goal.

Despite losing summer signing Ronaldo Mendes to injury, Wasl picked up where they left off after the break, with substitute Khalil Khamis making it 4-1 right on the hour. The midfielder placed into an empty net after De Lima’s shot had cannoned off the upright.

From there Wasl saw out the game to atone for last week’s season-opening defeat at Al Jazira. Arruabarrena’s league duck is broken.

MAN OF THE MATCH

Caio — The Brazilian worked tirelessly leading the line as usual, but there was much more to his display. His two goals, to effectively put the game out of Dhafra’s reach, came at an opportune time. Fully deserved.

WHAT THE MANAGERS SAID

Rodolfo Arruabarrena, Wasl: “It was a match we dominated, but after one mistake found ourselves one goal down. Yet within 15 minutes we’d scored three and so began the second half knowing we would win. I already said congratulations to my players for their efforts, because it’s not easy to come back after one defeat to Al Jazira. But we have to carry on improving because this is only the beginning.”

Mohammed Kwid, Dhafra: “Al Wasl played very well, they deserved to win. We wanted to get a good result, even a draw, but things don’t always work out the way you want. We tried to contain Al Wasl at first, but our goal had a positive effect on them. In seven minutes, the match was finished. We didn’t even play to 50 per cent of our ability, but we can come back.”

NATIONAL VERDICT

Wasl were always the better team, but Diop’s opener rocked them. However, the home side showed admirable spirit to flip the match, and will be keen to build on this result to fire their top-four bid.

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Published: September 24, 2016 04:00 AM

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