Second place within Al Wahda’s grasp after 2-0 defeat of Dubai

One point against last-place Al Shaab next week will secure Asian Champions League place for Wahda
Ismail Matar, right, of Al Wahda jumps over a Dubai defender during their Arabian Gulf League match at Al Nahyan Stadium in Abu Dhabi on May 2, 2014. Shadi Malkawi / Al Ittihad
Ismail Matar, right, of Al Wahda jumps over a Dubai defender during their Arabian Gulf League match at Al Nahyan Stadium in Abu Dhabi on May 2, 2014. Shadi Malkawi / Al Ittihad

ABU DHABI // Al Wahda took a giant step towards a second-place finish and a place in the 2015 Asian Champions League after a 2-0 win over Dubai at the Al Nahyan Stadium on Friday night.

The four-time league champions need only a draw against last-place Al Shaab in their final match on May 11 to finish runner-up behind Al Ahli as they hold a better head-to-head record against Al Shabab.

Shabab are on 43 points and a win for them against Baniyas, and a draw for Wahda, will leave both teams tied on 46.

Wahda scored on either side of half time through Mohammed Al Shehhi and Damian Diaz to extend their winning streak to five matches and move to second in the Arabian Gulf League on 45 points.

It could have been more if Sebastian Tagliabue’s close-range effort from a Diaz cross had not crashed against the post.

Yousuf Ahmed, the Dubai goalkeeper, also made an excellent save on a powerfully struck header by Al Shehhi off a long ball from Amer Omar.

Diaz split the Dubai defence with a neat through ball for Al Shehhi to score past a stranded Ahmed for a seventh-minute lead, a perfect start in their second-last game of the season.

Ali Al Hosani, the Wahda keeper, did well to preserve their lead until the break with an excellent save by smothering Jehad Al Hussein’s one-on-one effort in the goalmouth.

The closest the visitors came to scoring, which could have been a consolation goal, was when a low free kick by Mohammed Ali Hussain from 30 yards ricocheted off the far post four minutes from full-time.

Dubai ended the match with 10 men on the pitch when Mohammed Ismail received his marching orders from the referee Sultan Al Marzouqi for a second yellow card in added time.

“The next game for us will be like a final because our hopes of finishing second in the league will depend on it,” said Jose Peseiro, the Wahda coach.

“All the good work we have done in the past two months will count for nothing if we can’t return with a good result in our final game. So there is plenty at stake for us when we play Shaab away.

“We didn’t play well in the first half despite scoring early tonight. We allowed Dubai to create one or two good scoring chances, but they couldn’t take advantage of those opportunities. In the second half we showed a lot of improvement. We scored and created four or five chances.”

The final round of matches will have six teams battling for a top-four finish. Aside from Wahda and Shabab, there are Al Jazira, Al Nasr, Al Ain and Sharjah, with three points separating third place from seventh.

apassela@thenational.ae

Follow us on Twitter at @SprtNationalUAE

Published: May 3, 2014 04:00 AM

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