Al Wahda 3 Al Dhafra 0
Story of the match
Sebastian Tagliabue marked his return from a one-match ban with a pair of second-half goals to power Al Wahda to a 3-0 win over Al Dhafra in the Arabian Gulf League.
Ismail Matar had given them a fifth-minute lead and Tagliabue doubled it a minute into the second half before rounding off the game with his second a minute from time at the Al Nahyan stadium last night.
Tagliabue was unlucky when his effort in the first half crashed against the bar, but he more than made up for it with excellent strikes after the break for Wahda to register their fifth win in 10 games.
Dhafra under new Syrian coach Mohammed Kwid had their chances on either side of half time but could not make it count because of some good defending and the woodwork.
Makhete Diop got one past the Wahda goalkeeper Adel Al Hosani only to see it cleared from the goal-line by Salem Sultan in the first half.
The Senegalese forward was unlucky in the second half when his header bounced off the crossbar and a bicycle kick in front of the goalmouth brilliantly saved by Al Hosani, both in the second half.
Dhafra also had to play the last 15 minutes with 10 men when Abdulla Al Naqbi was sent off for a second bookable offence.
Man of the match
Tagliabue has been a model of consistency for Wahda.
The Argentine topped the scoring charts on his debut season with 25 league goals and followed it up with 15 as the top scorer for the club. His double last night against Dhafra took his tally to 12 from nine games.
What they said
Mohammed Kwid, Dhafra coach: “I can’t do magic to change a team in three days. We went down to a strong team but we had our chances to score and return with a better result.
“The reason we lost was because of defensive mistakes and also we couldn’t score from the chances we created. We did all this in three days and hopefully achieve a better result when we play Dibba next.
“We are now working with the remainder of the season in mind, and the management will be looking to get some new players during the mid-season transfer window.”
Javier Aguirre, Wahda coach: “My team played well in the last few games but didn’t achieve the desired result. Tonight we didn’t play that well, but still we came out with a good result.”
When asked why he kept changing players and dropped centre-back Hamdan Al Kamali, he said: “I don’t have any problems with the players but I believe in playing the best combination available at the time. I left out Hamdan (Al Kamali) because Salem Sultan is better than him. I have 26 players and only the best XI will start.”
The National’s verdict
Wahda coach Aguirre has taken the bold step to rebuild the side by providing more youngsters the playing opportunities.
It looks a good move for a side that do not have much hope of winning the league. Whether he will survive as coach for another season is another matter.
Sharjah 2 Al Wasl 1
A pair of goals from Wanderley Santos helped Sharjah fight back from a goal down to earn an invaluable 2-1 win over high-flying Al Wasl, lifting them out of the relegation zone and onto 8 points.
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