Dubai: Al Nasr and Al Jazira opened their Arabian Gulf Cup campaign in contrasting styles in Group B action late on Wednesday. Frustrated by a stoic Emirates Club, 10-man Al Nasr rode on a Marcos Gabriel goal for a 1-0 home win, while Al Jazira walked away with a 5-2 drubbing of Fujairah in the two early Group B matches.
Playing without their full quota of foreign professionals, Emirates did well to keep their illustrious opponents at bay for most of the encounter barring that moment two minutes from half-time when Al Nasr got the only goal of the match through the 28-year-old Brazilian.
With heat and humidity playing a role, Al Nasr’s first real chance came only in the 13th minute, but Gabriel — on loan from Corinthians — saw his free-kick from the top of the area crash against one of the Emirates’ defenders and spill out.
Undaunted by the challenge before them, Emirates did well to contain the home team’s movement and even managed a counter-attack on the 23rd minute only to see Amer Omar shoot over with just goalkeeper Mohammad Yousuf to beat.
Al Nasr lost defender Hamad Khamis with a second booking in the 37th minute, but still managed to re-organise and score in the 43rd minute after Gabriel pulled a first-time left-footed volley off a Samuel Rosa delivery.
Down by a man, Al Nasr clamped down in the defence using young Brazilian Iury Lirio as their lone striker and defend their slender lead. They did come close on a couple of occasions, but Emirates denied them further scoring opportunities.
In the day’s second match, Al Jazira continued their goalscoring spree with a 4-0 mauling of Fujairah. After opening with a high-scoring 5-4 win against Shabab Al Ahli Dubai in the Arabian Gulf League (AGL) last week, Al Jazira scored at regular intervals.
Ernest Asante opened the scoring in the seventh minute and Abdullah Ramadan doubled the score ten minutes later. The home team added a third when Leonardo Pereira’s free-kick crashed into the roof and Salim Rashid made it 4-0 two minutes from half-time with a first-time volley.
With full points assured, Al Jazira added a fifth through Ahmad Rabea in the 57th while Omar Kossoko (70th) and Ahmad Murad (76th) got a couple of consolation goals to lend respectability to the final score.