ABU DHABI // Over a span of 10 years, Al Wahda had won only once on the home grounds of arch-rivals Al Jazira. It would be fair to say, then, that Wahda could take some pleasure in leaving Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium last night with a point. The Abu Dhabi derby ended scoreless as each side was unable to convert on a handful of chances they manufactured before a crowd of 14,190 gathered on a hot and humid night in the capital.
If Wahda have any regrets, they come from a failure to convert a golden opportunity in the dying moments of the match. Saeed al Kathiri, who had come on for Mohammed al Shehhi four minutes from time, missed on a great opportunity to give Tite, Wahda's new Brazilian manager, a winning start. Al Kathiri failed to connect on a header from Fernando Baiano that came into his path eight yards from the goal.
If neither side sparkled, neither deserved to lose, either. The result took Jazira's tally to seven points from three matches, and Wahda took theirs to four, having lost the opening game to Al Wasl. Adel al Hosani, the Wahda goalkeeper, was in the thick of the action throughout. He made a fine save by keeping out Khalid Sabeel's low shot to the edge of the post, the first time Jazira managed to break the visitors' defence after dominating the first 15 minutes of the second half.
Immediately after, Jazira's goalkeeper Ali Kasheif made an excellent save by charging at Baiano's feet off a counter-attack. Jazira had another chance, but Ahmed Jumaa's effort was wide. Bare, Jazira's Brazilian striker, who had been ambling along without any noticeable contributions, was substituted in the second half for Tony, the Ivorian forward, who made an immediate impact with a darting run. But his shot, squeezed between the defenders Basheer Saeed and Hamdan al Kamali, went wide.
Al Hosani was in the spotlight again with a superb reflex save, pushing out a ball that ricocheted off Ibrahim Diaky from a clearance. Having weathered that tough period, Wahda moved towards the Jazira goal and managed a couple of shots. The first, from Ismael Matar was wide, and Kasheif did well to push out a dipping shot from Mahmoud Khamis. Both teams had chances to break the deadlock in the opening half.
Jazira were denied by some good work from al Hosani, who held on to a close-range header from Juma Abdullah off a corner from Matias Delgado, the Argentine midfielder. And a bullet earlier from Yasir Matar went agonisingly wide in the 13th minute. Wahda wasted chances by Baiano and Eisa Abdullah. Ismael Matar made a darting run before slipping the ball to Baiano inside the box, but the Brazilian was off-target. Abdullah was too slow to react after Hugo, the Brazilian midfielder making his first appearance, had set him up inside the box with a well-judged overhead pass.
Abel Braga, the Jazira coach, opted to start with one striker, Bare, leaving out Tony, the quicker player. Instead, Braga strengthened the midfield with Delgado. The newcomer from Argentina got his first start after showing promise in the 20 minutes he played against Sharjah, replacing Sultan al Minhali. Delgado made some notable contribution from the dead-ball situations, and one such effort from a flag kick had the Wahda defence caught on the wrong foot, but al Hosani saved.
Jazira suffered an injury early blow when Abdullah Qasem, the right wing, was forced to leave in the ninth minute from a shoulder injury, and was replaced by Yasir Matar. @Email:email@example.com Man of the match: Ibrahim Diaky (Al Jazira)