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Quaresma off the mark for Al Ahli

Ex-Barca winger scores only goal in President’s Cup quarter-final

Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: Portuguese star Ricardo Quaresma scored his first goal for new club Al Ahli to lead them to the semi-finals of the President’s Cup with a 1-0 win over a stubborn Dibba at Emirates Club in Ras Al Khaimah on Monday night.

Dibba, featuring in the competition’s quarter-finals for the first time, played a solid defensive game and frustrated their opponents with strong tackles. They kept their more illustrious rivals at bay despite the fact the match was a one-sided affair, with Al Ahli doing all the attacking and Dibba content to defend and try to organise rare counter-attacking moves.

Esmail Al Hammadi, Lusi Jimenez, Quaresma and Adnan Hussain were all denied in the first half by some brave goalkeeping from Humaid Abdullah, Dibba’s reserve goalkeeper.

In the second half, Al Ahli continued to press for a goal and Amer Mubarak Ghanim missed a chance in the 52nd minute from inside the box. But ten minutes later Quaresma, the former Barcelona and Inter Milan winger who signed on a free transfer in January, scored the all-important goal with an outstanding solo effort, in which he went past two defenders before sending a fierce left-footer into the far bottom corner of the net.

After the goal, Dibba went on the attack, led by Brazilian Luiz Fernando, in order to level the scores and restore their chances of reaching the semi-finals. But their lack of experience and some alert defending by their opponents, as well as the absence of their outstanding striker Alex Medeiros who was injured in a friendly against Al Araby last week, saw them miss out.

In the semi-finals of the cup, Al Ahli will face Al Ain and Al Wahda will play against Al Shabab. All four teams are former winners of the competition.