Al Wahda clinch Arabian Gulf Super Cup for third time

Al Wahda players celebrate after winning the Arabian Gulf Super Cup at the Bani Yas Stadium on Saturday night.

Al Wahda clinched ‘The Year of Zayed Arabian Gulf Super Cup’ for the third time with a stellar showing against city rivals Al Jazira on Saturday night.

In what was billed as the tussle of the Abu Dhabi heavyweights, The Clarets, last year’s President’s Cup winners, aced it with a 2-0 victory at a packed Bani Yas Stadium.

Moroccan midfielder Mourad Batna, who was impressive on the night, opened the scoring on 21 minutes after which Hungarian captain Balazs Dzsudzsak scored from a penalty as Laurentiu Reghecampf’s men laid their hands on the Super Cup for a third time following triumphs in 2002 and 2011. For Al Jazira, it was third time unlucky as they had also lost to Al Ahli (now Shabab Al Ahli) last season and to Al Ain in 2012.

The two teams had met in 2011 and although that went the distance, into extra time and had to be decided by penalties, before Al Wahda nicked it 7-6, The Clarets weren’t stretched this time around. They were fantastic on the night with a fine brand of football and Al Jazira were left to play second fiddle.

Al Wahda came up with a slick passing game and didn’t allow Al Jazira to get their feet in and which left the latter relying on the counter. Al Jazira lacked that sting at the final third as the Al Wahda stood firm. The 27-year-old Batna, in particular, proved to be a headache for the Al Jazira backline with some darting runs down the right and supplying piercing passes for Argentine striker Sebastian Tagliabue.

Al Wahda drew first blood on 21 minutes with an opportunistic goal through Batna. Tagliabue had curled in a powerfully struck grounder, which took a slight deflection of shot stopper Ali Khasief and hit the right post. An unmarked Batna pounced on the rebound and tucked it home.

Captain Ismail Matar came close to adding to that lead two minutes after the restart when he unleashed a long ranger from just outside the box But it swerved and just whizzed past the right post.

The second did come with just a minute to go for the hour mark with Dzsudzsak scoring from the spot. Khasief had charged out to stop Matar but only managed in running into him, as the latter’s effort hit the woodwork. Referee Sultan Abdurazzaq booked Khaseif for the challenge and pointed to the spot. And Dzsudzsak sent Khaseif the wrong way to spark celebrations in the Al Wahda stands.

Al Wahda could have got a third on 77 minutes when Batna fired a neat through to Tagliabue but the latter’s shot from close range was blocked by Khaseif.

Al Jazira were left to play the counter and came close to reducing the deficit with 10 minutes left when Romarinho made his way into the box. But his attempted pass to frontman Ali Ahmed Mabkhout was cleared by the defence.

The Clarets had one last attempt to make it 3-0 when Batna broke away from the middle and sent a through to Tagliabue. But the Argentine couldn’t take a clear shot and passed it to substitute Mohamed Alakberi, whose drilled it over.

Nonetheless, the job was done and Al Wahda celebrated being crowned champions as fireworks lit up the Abu Dhabi sky.

GOALS & CARDS:

Al Wahda 2

(Goals: Mourad Batna 21, Balazs Dzsudzsak 59. Yellow cards: Mohamed Al Dhaheri 12, Sultan Ghaferi 89)

Al Jazira 0

(Yellow cards: Mohamed Jamal 36, Ali Khaseif 58, Mbark Boussoufa 90)

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