Dubai: Fabio de Lima’s second-half penalty ensured a historic 1-0 win for Al Wasl against Saudi Arabia’s Al Nassr in the AFC Champions League, late on Monday.
Lima converted from the spot on the hour mark after Yousuf Ahmad had been brought down by Abdullah Madu inside the box. That goal was enough for the outfit from Al Zabeel to register their first win in the AFC Champions League after 11 long years.
The UAE side had finished bottom of their group with no points last year in what was their first continental appearance since 2008.
The hosts created the first chance eight minutes into the match when Lima’s shot off a Khamis Esmail through pass went well off the target. Laurentiu Reghecampf’s men suffered a blow when captain Caio Canedo hobbled off with a hamstring injury midway through the first half.
Next it was right-back Salem Al Azizi dribbling deep into the Al Nassr box and unleashing a powerful drive only to see Australian goalkeeper Brad Jones parry it away. Esmail and Lima both tried their luck from outside the box in the final 10 minutes of the first half, but both their efforts went past the target.
Al Nassr’s only scoring opportunity came a minute from the half-time whistle when Abdul Rahman Al Obaid’s cross from a free-kick was met by Abderazak Hamdallah’s powerful header that needed both goalkeeper Humaid Abdullah and the crossbar to interfere and stop it from going in.
The Saudi side looked to press higher up as the action resumed, and it was Hamdallah who had the first chance of the second half. Yahya Al Shehri intercepted and sent him through, but the Moroccan fired wide from close range. The visitors went all out at least for a draw, and despite Hamdallah and Giuliano’s best efforts for the remainder of the second half, Al Wasl remained resilient and defended their lead till the final whistle.
Group A leaders Al Wasl will next travel to Iraq where they face Iraq’s Al Zawraa — who drew with Iran’s Zobahan in their first match — on March 11.