Dubai: Argentine’s Lucas Diaz Alberdi marked his first seasonal game for Team Maserati with four goals to power them to a 8-3 victory over UAE Polo Team on the opening day of the prestigious Emirates Open Polo Championship at the Ghantoot Racing & Polo Club.
Alberdi, who plays with an impressive handicap of +6, was handed a start in a team that featured fellow Argentinian pros Gregorio Gelisi and Feliple Llorente, both +4 handicap players and Emirati player Abdullah Bin Dasmal.
The UAE Polo Team were led by Shaikha Maitha Bint Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum alongside Argentine pros Matias Benoit (+6 handicap) and Ignacio Acuna (+5), besides Rashid Bin Drai.
The 6-goaler Alberdi ranks among the top polo players in the world and he showed why, with his quartet of goals against a resolute UAE team.
The game looked evenly-matched by the end of the third of five chukkers with Maserati ahead 3-2.
But in the all-important fourth chukker, all the four Maserati players scored while not conceding a goal to go into the final chukker sitting pretty with a 7-2 lead.
Bin Drai would pull one back for the UAE team in the final seven minutes of the game only for Filipe Llorente to add another for Maserati, who with this performance will have sent out a warning to their four rivals in the five-team tournament.
Earlier, Santiago Gomero scored four goals as the Abu Dhabi Polo Team claimed a 7-6 victory over the Desert Palm Polo Team in a hugely entertaining match.
The winners started strongly scoring three goals without answer at the end of the first chukker before the Desert Palm outfit got to work and struck three times against another Abu Dhabi strike.
The teams shared four goals in the third chukker with Argentine’s Matias Machado (+4) scoring a brace to see the score tantalising placed at 6-5 in Abu Dhabi’s advantage.
Both teams were a trifle more cautions in the final two chukkers, but it was Abu Dhabi who gained the crucial advantage when Santiago Gomero made it 7-5 with only seven minutes remaining in the final quarter.
Machado struck his first goal of the match to reduce Abu Dhabi’s lead to just one goal, but the winners held on for a narrow victory.
Officially presented by Maserati — Premier Motors, the tournament culminates in the grand final on Friday, December 22.
Abu Dhabi Polo Team beat Desert Palm Polo Team by 7 goals to 6
Abu Dhabi Polo Team: 7 (Santiago Gomero 4; Patricio Cleza 1, Santiago Cemadas 1; Faris Al Yabhouni 1)
Desert Palm Polo Team: 6 (Matias Machado (4) 5 Juan Jos Stroni (5) 1)
Maserati Polo Team beat UAE Polo Team by 8 goals to 3
Maserati Polo Team 8 (Lucas Diaz Alberdi (6) 4; Gregorio Gelosi (4) 2; Abdullah Bin Dasmal 1; Felipe Llorente (4) 1)
UAE Polo Team: 3 (Ignacio Acuna (5) 1; Matias Benoit (6) 1; Rashid Bin Drai 1)