Al Nasr rally to split points with Al Ahli

Al Nasr rally to split points with Al Ahli

Ref Al Hammadi’s hotly-debated penalty award in 2-2 draw

By Alex Leach (senior Reporter)

Published: Sat 18 Apr 2015, 11:45 AM

Last updated: Thu 25 Jun 2015, 10:43 PM

Al Ahli’s Ossama Assaidi scores against Al Nasr during the Arabian Gulf League match in Dubai on Thursday. — KT photo by Mukesh Kamal

Al Ahli’s Ossama Assaidi scores against Al Nasr during the Arabian Gulf League match in Dubai on Thursday. — KT photo by Mukesh Kamal

Dubai — A highly contentious penalty award ensured Al Nasr came away from Al Ahli’s Rashid Stadium here with a 2-2 draw that did neither side any favours in their respective quests for a top-four finish.

With the Red Knights leading 2-1 inside the last quarter of an hour on Thursday night, referee Yaqoub Al Hammadi adjudged Kwon Kyung Won had manhandled Brett Holman inside the hosts’ penalty area and duly awarded the controversial spot-kick.

The decision infuriated and mystified the home contingent in equal measure, with the Blue Wave’s Australian attacker looking decidedly unlikely to reach Mahmoud Khamis’ deep free-kick by the time it was gathered in by Ahli goalkeeper Majed Naser at the far post.

There also, seemingly, was an offside decision and blocking antics in the build-up that went unnoticed by Al Hammadi and his assistants on the touchlines too. None of that mattered nevertheless to Khamis, who clinically converted from 12 yards to ultimately earn his team one point and a share of the spoils.

On an evening when Al Wahda won 2-1 at Al Dhafra to stretch their lead over Ahli and Nasr to eight and nine points respectively though, a three-point haul was absolutely imperative with regards to the permutations for Asian Champions League (ACL) qualification.

Sami Al Jabar’s Clarets have three Arabian Gulf League (AGL) games remaining and nine points left to play for, with two of those matches significantly away to Ahli (May 1st, Kick-off: 7:35pm) and at home to Nasr (May 10th, Kick-off: 7:35pm). The 2009-2010 champions have a forthcoming home fixture against champions elect Al Ain to boot (April 27th, Kick-off: 8:45pm).

Wahda would need to accrue less than two points from those encounters now for Ahli or Nasr to stand any remote chance, with Cosmin Olaroiu’s men currently holding a one-point lead over Ivan Jovanovic’s squad. Ahli lead their head-to-head with Wahda following a 2-1 success back in December, whereas Nasr need to make up a deficit in that regard after a 2-0 loss that very same month.

Wahda leapfrogged over Shabab into third place in the standings with their triumph over Dhafra, but Shabab don’t appear in any immediate danger with relatively winnable home games versus Fujairah (April 26th, Kick-off: 6pm) and Dhafra (May 10th, Kick-off: 7:35pm) sandwiching a tough trip to the likely 2014/15 runners-up Al Jazira (May 10th, Kick-off: 7:35pm).

Still, Ahli and Nasr may yet rue not taking maximum points from an outing that failed to ignite initially up until UAE striker Ahmed Khalil gave the reigning champions the lead midway through the first half. Habib Fardan robbed Ali Hussain of possession following a short goal-kick by Ahmad Shambieh and the ball rolled free for Khalil to stride on and finish.

Khalil, who rattled the crossbar, Everton Ribeiro and Ismaeel Al Hammadi then spurned chances to make it 2-0 before Oussama Assaidi did exactly that after 57 minutes. The Moroccan winger rifled into the roof of the net after Shambieh — under pressure from Khalil — could only parry an Al Hammadi delivery straight into his path.

Fardan duly spurned a glorious opportunity for 3-0, scuffing Salmeen Khamis’ flick-on from Won’s long throw against the outside of the far post, and Ahli were made to pay for their profligacy. An unattended Hussain Abbas halved the deficit by nodding in a Khamis free-kick on 69 minutes prior to Al Hammadi’s ill-advised intervention late on.

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