Omar Abdulrahman, centre, got Al Ain's party started and Omar Abdulrahman, left, added to the celebration as the Garden City club won 2-1 in the first leg of their Asian Champions League Round of 16 match against Arabian Gulf League rivals Al Jazira. Marwan Naamani / AFP
Omar Abdulrahman, centre, got Al Ain's party started and Omar Abdulrahman, left, added to the celebration as the Garden City club won 2-1 in the first leg of their Asian Champions League Round of 16 mShow more

Walter Zenga says Jazira’s loss to Al Ain was an ‘unfair result’


Al Jazira - Fayez 58'

Al Ain - Gyan 11', O Abdulrahman 15'

Man of the match - Omar Abdulrahman (Al Ain)

ABU DHABI // Walter Zenga said his Al Jazira team can bounce back from Tuesday night's 2-1 defeat to Al Ain when they meet in the second leg of the Asian Champions League (ACL) last-16 next week.

The visitors were on the offensive from the first whistle and were rewarded when Asamoah Gyan slammed in a cross from Mohammed Fayez for an 11th-minute lead.

Omar Abdulrahman doubled the lead four minutes later when, with the Jazira defence flat-footed, he drove a shot from 25 yards that crashed in off a post. Musallem Fayez reduced the deficit on 58 minutes with a glancing header off a cross from Abdelaziz Barrada to spark a frantic last half-hour.

“It was one of the unfair results in a football game because we played an amazing game considering we conceded two goals in the first 15 minutes, thanks to some great work from Gyan and Omar,” Zenga said.

“It was a shock for the team to concede the two early goals but we did very well to come back strongly. At the end we deserved more than what we achieved on the night.

“The game is open and we will travel to Al Ain to play with the same intensity and same attitude to win. We want to achieve this qualification to the last eight.”

Zenga was not happy Felipe Caicedo’s late effort was disallowed for offside and felt his side were unlucky after a rocket from Abdulla Mousa crashed against the crossbar and onto the Al Ain goalkeeper’s back before the ball was cleared.

“We could have won this game if not for a disallowed goal and the one that hit the crossbar, which was unbelievable because it hit the bar and bounced behind the goalkeeper,” said the Italian.

“The goal was not offside. It was a crucial decision of the game, but what can I do? Had it been awarded we could have been 2-2 and, perhaps, won 3-2. But as I spoke earlier in the pre-match conference, the result will be decided in the next game.”

Zenga lauded the superb second-half performance of his players. “They beat us 2-1 in the first leg and we can beat them in the next game if we play with the same mentality as we did tonight,” he said.

It was Jazira’s first defeat to Al Ain this season, having beaten them in the first round of the Arabian Gulf League at home and drawn 2-2 last Thursday. In-between, Jazira got the better of them 3-1 in the Arabian Gulf Cup.

Zlatko Dalic, the Al Ain coach, said he would sacrifice their final match in the Arabian Gulf League, against Al Wasl away on Saturday, and prepare for the ACL return leg at the Hazza bin Zayed Stadium on Tuesday.

“We had a good first half and could have scored two or three more goals, but we were not so well in the second half as my players lost their power and energy,” the Croatian said.

“Jazira were 2-0 down and they had to come back and play an offensive game. We didn’t play defensive in the second half. It is not my style but Jazira changed their game and went on the attack. Still we created a few chances.

“We also had to make three changes in the second half because of injuries, but I am glad with the result because we go into the home leg with an advantage. The work is only half complete because we expect another tough game against Jazira.”

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