SHARJAH: Al Ahli tightened grip on second spot in the Etisalat Pro League following 2-0 victory over Al Wahda in the 22nd round match played at the Maktoum Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Stadium on Saturday night.
Second-half goals from Adnan Al Beloshi and Ismaeil Al Hammadi handed the win to Al Ahli after Al Wahda had defended astutely for the first hour, and the three points further solidifies Al Ahli in second place on 45 points, whilst Al Wahda remain 7th with 32 points.
In the first half, newly re-signed Grafite recorded Al Ahli’s best chance in the 18th minute as he headed a cross from Adnan Al Beloshi, but Al Wahda’s goalkeeper Adel Al Hosani turned it behind for a corner.
For Al Wahda, Saeed Al Kathiri hit a powerful drive from distance in the 42nd minute but it was straight at Al Ahli goalkeeper Majed Naser, who made a comfortable save.
The second half started more brightly for Al Ahli, with Luiz Jiminez unleashing a promising shot seconds from the restart and the Chilean combining well with Grafite three minutes later to almost open the scoring, but Adel Al Hosani made the necessary save.
In the 55th minute a fluid passage of play from Al Wahda almost culminated in a breakthrough but Khalid Al Marzouqi’s shot on the turn spun away from the target.
A minute later Al Ahli had their own decent chance as Adnan Al Beloshi’s cushioned header was met with an overhead kick by Grafite, but the Brazilian target man didn’t catch his shot cleanly and it failed to trouble Adel Al Hosani.
Al Wahda resisted Al Ahli’s pressure in the box with discipline, as Dino Djulbic and Srdan Andric got some crunching tackles and crucial blocks in. Al Ahli finally found a way to breach Al Wahda’s tight defense as Ismaeil Al Hammadi’s incisive pass set Adnan Al Beloshi away and the diminutive attacking midfielder kept his composure to round the onrushing goalkeeper and slot home with his left foot to make it 1-0 in the 66th minute.
The goal was to be his final contribution of the match as he was immediately replaced by Portuguese winger Ricardo Quaresma. Soon Al Ahli doubled their lead as left-back Azooz Sanqour threaded a pass through to Hammadi on the left wing, and the pintsized dynamo brilliantly beat his two markers on a mazy run before curling a right-footed shot into the net to make it 2-0 in the 72nd minute.
Hammadi’s game also ended prematurely as he was stretchered off in the 82nd minute, with Ahmed Khalil coming on in his place. As the game fizzled out, Al Ahli were reduced to 10 men in injury time when Youssef Mohamad was shown a straight red card but Al Ahli held on for a comfortable 2-0 win.