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UAE's Al Jazira edge past Qatar's Al Gharafa

Khaleej Times logo Khaleej Times 12/02/2018 Ashwani Kumar
UAE's Al Jazira edge past Qatar's Al Gharafa © Provided by Khaleej Times UAE's Al Jazira edge past Qatar's Al Gharafa

UAE' s Al Jazira pinned down Qatar side Al Gharafa 3-2 to clinch a famous victory in the Group A match of the AFC Champions League at the Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium on Monday.

Al Jazira had so far never beaten Al Gharafa in their previous four encounters but on the night when stakes were high, the Capital club got the job done.

Al Jazira played the match with high intensity and intent. In as early at 10 minutes, Al Jazira went ahead through a fine long-range effort from Romarinho. It was a lovely pass from defender Mohamed Al Attas for the Brazilian to convert from a difficult angle.

In the next minute, however, Al Gharafa equalised through Mehdi Taremi who drilled from the centre to the left corner. Minutes later, Al Gharafa midfielders Wesley Sneijder and Abdulaziz Hatem threatened with long rangers. The heat was on.

However, Al Jazira retained lead with Ali Mabkhout's superb finish from a set piece. Following the goal, Al Jazira maintained pressure and Ahmed Al Hashmi and Mbark Boussoufa came close to scoring on occasions.

Right after the break, Al Jazira continued to dominate proceedings. Al Gharafa, however, disrupted the momentum with double substitution. There was a shift in gameplay as Al Gharafa came back into match. Al Jazira keeper Ali Khaseif and defenders did well to contain Sneijder. In 68 minutes, the Dutchman's direct free-kick crashed into the left post. Al Gharafa's Diogo Amado and Taremi kept up pressure but Al Jazira soaked it in all.

Playing the waiting game, Al Jazira made it 3-1 as Al Hashmi made good of a pass from Romarinho and deposited the ball to the top left corner.

However, Al Gharafa pulled one back as Sneijder bolted one back of net in 71 minutes.

The last 20 minutes saw end-to-end challenges. There were chances, challenges and bodies being thrown in line of fire. In the dying stages, both teams had opportunities to score but Mabkhout and Taremi failed to finish the task.

There were six minutes of added time but the visitors failed to find an equaliser with the many attempts.

And with this top-notch win, Al Jazira have finally ended their winless streak in the AFC Champions League. The players are in fine form with good results in the local League and it was another top-rated performance by the 'Pride of Abu Dhabi'.

Lokomotiv blank Wahda 5-0

Once again Al Wahda lost an away match of the AFC Champions League. Worse, Abu Dhabi club got thrashed 5-0 by Uzbekistan's Lokomotiv Tashkent in the Group B match on Monday.

Al Wahda, Arabian Gulf League title challengers, were surprisingly aimless whereas Lokomotiv kept goal keeper Rashed Ali busy.

Lokomotiv midfielder Sanjar Shaakhmedov was a menace for Al Wahda with long-range efforts and crucial assists. In 11 minutes, Shaakhmedov and Nivaldo combined well in front of Al Wahda goal but Brazilian striker was ruled offside.

Al Wahda responded well with Ahmed Al Akberi and Balazs Dzsudzsak targeting Lokomotiv from the right flank. Al Wahda striker Mohamed Al Akbari was fed the best chance by skipper Ismail Matar but the striker shot straight to Lokomotiv keeper Ignatiy Nesterov.

Just as Al Wahda had built a nice momentum, Lokomotiv hit back again.

Al Wahda defenders were caught napping as Shaakhmedov provided a cheeky through pass and Nivaldo dashed to stylishly deposit the ball into the right corner. However, the goal scorer picked an injury and was replaced by former Al Jazira player Sardor Rashidov.

Al Wahda mounted pressure through decent efforts from Dzsudzsak and Matar but Lokomotiv withstood the attempts. And in 53 minutes, hosts made it 2-0 from a stunning match-defining goal from Ikrom Alibaev.

The midfielder blasted from the half-line as he saw Rashed Ali out of position. Al Wahda keeper couldn't get back in time as the ball passed over his outstretched hands into the net.

Such goals destroy the confidence level of the opposition. And in 55 minutes Al Wahda too felt the pinch. Lokomotiv defender Shukrat Mukhammadiev cross into Al Wahda goal got deflected by Salem Sultan into his own net.

Even though the score was 3-0, there was no let as Lokomotiv kept hunting with Marat Bikmaev and Oleg Zoteev coming close to scoring. Such persistence paid as substitute Rashidov scored from tight angle.

Both teams continued to push for goals. And in 87 minutes, Alibaev headed in his second and Lokomotiv's fifth.

Al Wahda now rot at the bottom of Group B and got two more matches to reverse their fortunes with next assignment against Qatari club Al Duhail at home on Feb. 19.

Meanwhile, Al Duhail beat Zob Ahan 3-1 in another Group B match at Abdullah bin Khalifa Stadium.

ashwani@khaleejtimes.com

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