Dubai: Al Wasl maintained their unbeaten run, and along with it sole leadership at the top of Arabian Gulf League (AGL) standings with a calculated 3-0 win over visiting Al Dhafra late on Friday.
Displaying lengthy periods of possession, the home side managed a major part of the damage in the first half of the opening period with goals from defender Abdul Rahman Ali and Caio Canedo enough to stamp their authority. They added a third ten minutes from the end, and thereafter, it was a question of guarding their lead, something that they managed well till the end to hand their opponents from Abu Dhabi a fifth defeat of the season.
After eight rounds, Al Wasl is just one of two teams with an unbeaten record along with second-placed Al Ain. The Cheetahs from Al Zabeel now have six wins and two draws for the 20 points at the top of the table, while Al Ain – who are scheduled to play defending champions Al Jazira late on Saturday – are one win short after going unbeaten on five occasions.
Al Dhafra did well to soak in the early pressure and relied on counter-attacks to try and catch the home team off-guard. Al Wasl came close to a goal the first time in the fifth minute but a teasing cross from Salem Al Azizi was hastily cleared away to safety. Al Dhafra had a first look at the home goal in the 14th minute with Hamad Al Marzouki feeding his captain Ali Ebrahim Al Hammadi with a near-perfect delivery. But the skipper’s lay-up went abegging with no one at hand to tap into an empty goal.
Al Wasl retaliated in the very minute when Ronaldo Mendes showed dainty controlling skills on the left flank, and then undid all his hard work by blasting over with just Zayed Al Hammadi at his mercy.
However, the home team finally took the lead off the first corner of the match when an unmarked defender Abdul Rahman Ali headed in strongly give the visiting goalkeeper no chance. In the 23rd minute, the Al Dhafra goal fell a second time when Caio Canedo ran in for a toed delivery from Fabio de Lima and shot home. Lima himself came close to adding to his tally as top-scorer but his shot was parried away to safety by an alert Al Hammadi.
Comfortably placed, the home team merely defended their lead in the second half with their Brazilian trio of Mendes, Lima and Canedo resorting to some chirpy passing bouts down through the middle. However, none of these resulted in any goals till ten minutes from the final whistle when Canedo got his second after volleying home a chip from the far end from Lima to walk away with a comfortable result and keep their position at the summit.
Al Wasl x Al Dhafra 3-0