Shabab Al Ahli won their fourth Arabian Gulf Cup title after earning a 3-1 extra-time over Al Wahda at Hazza bin Zayed Stadium on Friday night.
Shabab Al Ahli got off to a strong start and controlled the possession in the early stages of the game. Mohamed Juma forced Al Wahda’s keeper Rashed Alsuwaidi into a save only three minutes after kick-off, while Saud Abdelrazaq tried his luck 15 minutes later but was denied by Alsuwaidi.
On the half-hour mark, Shabab Al Ahli came close to finding the back of the net. Mohamed Juma found the ball on the edge of the box before dribbling past Al Wahda defender, but his close-range shot hit the woodwork.
The Clarets responded five minutes later. Right after coming on as a substitute for Abdulla Anwar, Sebastián Tagliabué passed the ball for on-rushing Ismaeil Matar whose strike was brilliantly saved by Majed Naser.
The final five minutes of the first half were a different story. Shabab Al Ahli broke the deadlock five minutes before the half-time whistle. An inch-perfect cross from Abdelaziz Salim Ali found Henrique Luvannor de Sousa inside the box, and the latter slotted home to give his side a 1-0 advantage.
Shabab Al Ahli’s lead, however, didn’t last long as Tagliabué leveled the scoreline in the dying moments of the first half. The Argentine forward sent a powerful strike from outside the box that nestled into the back of the opponents’ net. This marked Tagliabué fourth goal in the Arabian Gulf. Cup this season.
Ismail Al Hammadi tested Alsuwaidi in the 66th minute but the latter was alert as the game remained deadlocked at 1-1.
Shabab Al Ahli piled on the pressure as they searched for the winner in the remaining minutes. Alsuwaidi denied Jaime Ayovi with four minutes to go, before saving Majed Hassan’s effort deep in injury time.
Neither side could find the winning goal in the closing stages, forcing the clash into extra-time.
Only five minutes after the restart, Shabab Al Ahli took a 2-1 lead. After capitalizing on a defensive mistake from Al Wahda defenders, Jaime Ayovi sent a close-range effort past Alsuwaidi to take his side a step closer towards the title.
As the Clarets were looking to net an equalizer, Shabab Al Ahli scored their third of the night to put the win beyond any doubt.
An impressive individual work from Ismail Al Hammadi saw him dribble past Al Wahda defenders inside the box before passing the ball to Mauro Diaz. Ayovi found the Argentine midfielder’s pass and slotted home his second of the night to make it 3-1 in the 106th minute.
To add insult to injury, Al Wahda were reduced to 10 men six minutes from time as Leonardo de Souza was sent off after being shown a second yellow card.
Al Wahda, who have two titles to their name, failed to become the first team to win the title for two years in a row. Meanwhile, Shabab Al Ahli won a record-extending fourth title after they were named champions in 2012, 2014 and 2017.