‘Only one Boss’ read a giant banner, and at the end of 90 minutes there was indeed only one – Al Ain. The purple brigade marched into the semi-finals of the FIFA Club World Cup with a 3-0 authoritative win over ES Tunis in an electrifying encounter at the Hazza bin Zayed Stadium on Saturday night. At half-time Al Ain led 2-0.
Mohammad Ahmad, Hussain El Shahat and Bandar Al Ahbabi scored a goal apiece for the winners.
Al Ain will now clash with Argentine side River Plate in the semi-final on Tuesday at 8.30pm at the same venue.
It was the vertical that came to the rescue of the visitors in the very first move from Al Ain. Brazilian striker Caio sent in a cross from the left and the header from El Shahat after brushing off a defender found the bottom of the far post. That spark was enough for Al Ain to surge into the lead in the second minute. Defender Mohammad Ahmad rose in time to nod home a corner from youngster Rayan Yaslem.
Then in the 10th minute, Egyptian recruit El Shahat tested the ES Tunis goalkeeper Moez Ben Cherifia with a long-range effort but only to see it sail over the framework. Five minutes later, El Shahat showed his brilliance to put the hosts 2-0 up on a move triggered by Caio from the left.
The Brazilian found Yaslem with a fine release and the latter sent in a cross for an unmarked El Shahat, who was overlapping from behind. Despite having four defenders in front, El Shahat took his time and slotted it home to trigger wild celebrations amongst the Al Ain fans.
ES Tunis then saw the horizontal deny them twice in quick succession. First, a header from Ghaylen Chaaleli found the centre of the crossbar and then a shot from Taha Khenissi bushed the top corner. Al Ain then shut shop and held their defences tightly to go into the breather with that two-goal cushion.
After the change of ends, Al Ain kept up the pressure and went on to pump in another goal in the 60th minute. Yaslem again showing tremendous maturity and presence of mind — this time attacking from the left wing. He found Ciao with a pinpoint cross and the man from the ‘land of samba’ showed his dribbling skills to find Bandar Al Ahbabi, who shot home on the run to make it 3-0.