Abu Dhabi: Al Ain, riding on a brace of goals from Swedish striker Marcus Berg, thrashed a listless Hatta 3-0 in the Arabian Gulf League at the Hamdan Bin Rashid Stadium on Saturday.
Apart from Berg, Brazilian Douglas completed the tally for ‘The Boss’.
Having registered their first win of the AGL season, Al Ain now have four points from two matches. Their opening encounter against Al Wasl had ended in a 2-2 home draw. Hatta, on the other hand, having suffered their second successive loss in two outings are yet to open their account and Macedonian coach Gjokica Hadzievski will have plenty to ponder in the coming days.
In the absence of Al Ain’s star player Omar Abdul Rahman, out with an injury, somebody had to take the onus to give the purple brigade their first win. Berg was in the zone right from the start and he came close to scoring as early as in the eight minute. A well-directed header from Berg was goal-bound but an alert Hatta goalkeeper Ebrahim Eisa showed quick reflexes to tip it over the bar.
The Swede was in the spotlight again soon after the first quarter and this time he managed to make his effort count.
A cross from the right flank by Japan’s midfielder Tsukasa Shiotani was nodded down by Brazilian Douglas and Berg, lurking inside the box, managed to get his foot in front of a Hatta defender to nudge it into the goal.
A pumped-up Berg then went on to double his and the team’s lead in the 24th minute, this time through a brilliant back header to a pinpoint long ball from Amer Abdul Rahman. Hatta goalkeeper Eisa being way out of his line could only watch haplessly as the ball settled into the netting.
In the 36th minute, Hatta had a fine chance to reduce the margin when a full-blooded shot from Romanian Adrian Ropotan needed just a deflection from an unmarked Maher Jassem. The latter though managed to get a foot to the ball but ended up deflecting it wide.
Amer Abdul Rahman had a great opportunity to get his name on the board soon after the change of ends. However, he couldn’t keep his long-range effort down and only managed to see it sail over the horizontal.
Youngster Rayan Yaslam, getting an opportunity for Al Ain in Omar’s absence, was also impressive at the axis. A move he triggered saw Brazilian Douglas blast home to make it 3-0 after being set up by Berg.
Mohnad Salem could have made it 4-0 had his left-footed effort from close range not found the bottom of the vertical in the 70th minute. With Hatta posing very little threat, Al Ain managed to try out a few more youngsters from the bench to play out the time.