Al Wahda win Super Cup on penalties


Al Wahda were crowned Arabian Gulf Super Cup champions for the third time in their history after defeating arch rivals Al Ain on penalties after the Boss had come from 0-3 down to equalise in the second half.

The Clarets came racing out of the blocks with two strikes inside the opening seven minutes.

First it was Sebastian Tagliabue who dispossessed Al Ain defender Mohamed Ahmed then supplied the ball on a golden plate for skipper Ismael Matar who applied a composed finish from inside the box to beat goalkeeper Khaled Eisa and put Al Wahda in front four minutes in.

Then three minutes later, Mourad Batna beat Tsukasa Shiotani out on the right wing before cutting inside and curling in a stellar ball from 30 yards out that wrongfooted Eisa and nestled into the back of the net in the seventh minute.

Al Ain had a golden chance to half the deficit ten minutes before the break when Hussein El Shahat was brought down by Mohammed Al Abdulla inside the box. Last season’s Arabian Gulf League top goalscorer Marcus Berg stepped up and sent an effort into the right corner, but the Swede watched as goalkeeper Rashed Ali produced a flying reflex save to deny the Boss the opportunity.

Taking momentum from the save, Al Wahda looked to hit their opponents on the counter and succeeded in doing so four minutes later as captain Matar found Batna with a perfectly weighted through pass. The Moroccan delivered a cross from the right for Tagliabue who steered his header past the helpless Eisa to make it 3-0 at the interval.

Zoran Mamic’s words at the break seem to have done wonders as Al Ain came out of the dressing rooms a different side. It took the Boss 16 minutes to pull one back as Berg made up for missing the penalty with a well taken finish. The Swede was sent through by El Shahat who intercepted Hamdan Al Kamali’s long pass and left Berg with a simple finish from inside the box.

It was game on with 17 minutes to go when Al Ain were awarded a second penalty after Al Kamali brought down Caio inside the box. Substitute Ibrahim Diaky stepped up and goalkeeper Ali was beaten this time as Al Ain made it 3-2.

The comeback was completed in the 77th minute as Caio pounced on a poor clearance from Mohammed Al Menhali and curled his effort into the far corner to send Al Ain fans into raptures.

Diaky nearly won it for Al Ain in the final 5 minutes with a stunning volley from the edge of the box, but the veteran’s strike hit the crossbar and went behind for a goal kick as the final whistle signalled a 3-3 draw.

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