Sebastian Tagliabue twice on target for Al Wahda in Arabian Gulf League win over Dibba

Two goals from Argentine striker Sebastian Tagliabue takes his season tally to 15 goals in 13 games for Al Wahda.
Sebastian Tagliabue of Al Wahda with Mohamed Ali of Dibba. Wahda's Argentine striker scored twice in a 3-1 win on January 7, 2016 at Al Nahyan Stadium in Abu Dhabi. Mona Al Marzooqi/ The National
Sebastian Tagliabue of Al Wahda with Mohamed Ali of Dibba. Wahda's Argentine striker scored twice in a 3-1 win on January 7, 2016 at Al Nahyan Stadium in Abu Dhabi. Mona Al Marzooqi/ The National

Al Wahda 3

Tagliabue 24’, 81’, Valdivia 63’

Dibba 1

Al Ghafri (og) 38’

ABU DHABI // Al Wahda got their New Year and second half of the Arabian Gulf League off to a positive start on Thursday evening.

Sebastian Tagliabue was on target either side of half time while Jorge Valdivia added a third in between as Wahda overcame an own goal from Sultan Al Ghafri to record a 3-1 victory over Dibba at the Al Nahyan Stadium. Dibba ended the game with 10 players after Ali Mohammed was sent off seven minutes from time after collecting a second yellow card.

Tagliabue’s double took his season’s tally to 15 from 13 league games. The Argentine, unmarked at the far post, opened the scoring on 24 minutes with a neat header off a cross from Mohammed Bargash but the lead was shortlived, Al Ghafri’s sliding effort to intercept a Sanad Ali cross only succeeded in knocking the ball past his own goalkeeper with 38 minutes on the clock.

Valdivia restored Wahda’s lead midway through the second half. The Chilean playmaker launched a curling shot that bounced awkwardly in front of Humaid Abdullah before nestling in the far corner of the net. Tagliabue made sure of the result nine minutes from time, collecting a pass from the second-half substitute Khalil Ibrahim and knocking in his second of the match.

Man of the match

Valdivia not only scored but played an influential role in creating space to put the Dibba defenders under pressure throughout. He did it despite being heavily marked and withstanding some harsh tackles.

What the managers said

Javier Aguirre, the Wahda coach: “We didn’t start the game in a good way but we saw a better second half, but we could have won much better than we did.

“We have lost about 10 players, four of them – Mohammed Al Shehhi, Abdullah Al Noobi, Mohammed Saif and Fahad Al Dhanhani – are in the military services; four of them – Mohammed Al Akbari, Ahmed Rashid, Salem Sultan, Sultan Saif – are in the UAE Olympic team, and a couple of injuries.

“However, I expect every player in the squad when provided with the opportunity to play to their true potential because our objective is still to finish in the top four in the league.”

Theo Bucker, the Dibba coach: “For a small club like Dibba it was an OK performance. It will take a while for us to reach the level of a team like Wahda. We have to play within our limited resources and when up against stronger opponents, as in most cases, there is not much we can do.”

When asked if they the club were on the lookout for new signings during the transfer window, Bucker said: “I have recommended some changes to the squad but this is not in my hands.”

The National’s verdict

Wahda looked a bit rusty after the mid-season break but are clearly a side on the up with a victory that keeps them fifth in the AGL table. They enjoyed both possession and territory for the majority of the game, and could have won more convincingly at the end had they not been so wasteful in front of goal.

sports@thenational.ae

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Published: January 7, 2016 04:00 AM

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