Tagliabue brace pushes Al Wahda past Al Shabab

Al Ahli could take a firm hold on the Arabian Gulf League title trophy with victory at Al Jazira on Sunday night after their closest rivals Al Shabab on Saturday had a second consecutive defeat with a 2-1 loss at home to Al Wahda, writes Ahmed Rizvi.

Al Wahda's Sebastian Tagliabue was the man of the hour as Al Wahda defeated Al Shabab with Tagliabue providing both goals for the victory on Saturday, April 5, 2014. Delores Johnson / The National
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Al Shabab 1 Al Wahda 2

Al Shabab Bruno 56'

Al Wahda Tagliabue 64' (pen), 90+2'

Man of the match Sebastian Tagliabue (Al Wahda)

DUBAI // Al Ahli could take a firm hold on the Arabian Gulf League title trophy with victory at Al Jazira on Sunday night after their closest rivals Al Shabab on Saturday had a second consecutive defeat with a 2-1 loss at home to Al Wahda.

If Ahli come away with the points against Jazira, it would give them an unsurmountable 12-point lead at the top. Just one point in their remaining four matches and the trophy is in their grip for keeps.

If Ahli inexplicably lost their remaining four league matches and Shabab won all, Cosmin Olaroiu’s men would still be champions if they can hold Shabab to one score or less when the two neighbours meet on April 27.

Ahli defeated Shabab 2-0 in their home match and, if both teams were to finish level on points, the head-to-head record would come into the reckoning, and then the goal difference in their two meetings this season.

Marcos Paqueta, the Shabab coach, has all but given up any hopes of such a breathtaking finish, but he is happy with what his team have achieved this season after selling their two best players – Walid Abbas and Ciel – to Ahli in the summer.

“We are very proud of the work we have done,” Paqueta said. “We have done well against all odds, against all predictions. Nobody had given us a chance of competing. We have been playing well. In the last two matches, we were not lucky and this happens in the world of football.

“We had lots of opportunities to score, but instead Wahda return home with a 2-1 win. We did everything right. All the statistics are in our favour. We had more ball possession and we created lots of chances, but luck was not on our side.

“Wahda had two chances and they scored twice. But this is football and now we have to wait for the result of the other matches to see what we can do in the remaining matches.”

One of the most prolific teams in the first half of the season with 27 goals from their first 12 matches, Shabab have been struggling recently. In their past 10 matches, they have scored a disappointing eight goals.

Wahda have scored seven in their past two matches, but yesterday they were far from threatening and barely had a shot in the opening half.

But after Edgar Bruno nodded in for Shabab in the 56th minute, the visitors upped their game and equalised eight minutes later from the penalty spot after Mohammed Al Shehi was brought down by Abdullah Faraj

Sebastian Tagliabue then got his second of the night two minutes into injury time, chipping over the advancing Shabab goalkeeper.

“I think Shabab were much better than us in the first half,” said Jose Peseiro, the Wahda goalkeeper. “They had three or four clear opportunities and could have scored goals in the first half; they had plenty of one-on-one situations.

“After they scored, our team showed a good reaction. I accept we were lucky today and I am happy for my players because they fought. We have played better in the past, but we fought hard and with some luck, managed to win the match.

“There were times when we deserved to win, but we lost or drew. Today, Shabab deserved to win and we won. I am not saying we did not deserve to win because we scored more goals than them.”

Al Dhafra 2 Al Shaab 1

Al Dhafra condemned bottom-of-the-table Al Shaab to their 17th defeat of the season with a 2-1 win on Saturday night.

Second-half goals from Abdulla Al Jaberi and Makhete Diop were enough to ensure Michael Laurent N’dri’s late effort was a mere consolation for the visitors.

Al Wasl 1 Al Nasr 2

Al Nasr took the bragging rights in the Bur Dubai derby for the third time this season with a hard-fought 2-1 win over Al Wasl at the Zabeel Stadium.

A first-half double from Ibrahima Toure was enough to take all three points in a feisty encounter. Ricardo Oliveira replied before the break for Al Wasl.

Ajman 1 Dubai 1

Ajman and Dubai shared the spoils at the Rashid bin Saeed Stadium. Ajman took the lead in the 28th minute through Simon Feindouno.

But with nine minutes remaining, Dubai hit back with an equaliser through Gilles Yapi-Yapo to give them hope yet of surviving in the top flight.


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