Al Wahda, Al Jazira red-hot clash ends in draw
Abu Dhabi - The last half hour saw two red cards - one to Valdivia and another to Salem Abdullah.
The Capital derby lived up to its billing of being a hotly-contested affair. Honours were shared between Al Jazira and Al Wahda during the first round match of the Arabian Gulf Cup at the Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium on Saturday night.
In a fiery battle, the reigning Cup champions had the upper hand in the first half through goals from South Americans Jorge Valdivia and Sebastian Tagliabue. And the second half saw the 'Pride of Abu Dhabi' coming back with strikes from new boy Mbark Boussoufa and Fares Juma. Tempers were running high and referee Sultan Abdurazzaq had a difficult time from the word go.
The last half hour saw two red cards - one to Valdivia and another to Salem Abdullah.
Crowds were entertained to some intriguing play throughout. It was Jorge Valdivia who opened the Clarets' goal account for the new Cup season. In the sixth minute, the Chilean bolted in a ball that was slipped in by Argentinian Tagliabue. Three minutes later, Valdivia again threatened to score but was brought down by Sultan Al Shamsi.
The referee, however, handed a yellow card to the Chilean for diving. In the 35th minute, Tagliabue also got onto the score sheet. He dashed on a pass from midfielder Nasir Abdulhadi and easily outpaced the defence to beat keeper Khaled Al Senani. The cool finish from the League's top-goal scorer was evident of his confident frame of mind. Al Jazira too had their chances but failed to capitalise.
Al Wahda entered half-time with a two-goal advantage. After the break, Al Jazira started with more intent and were soon rewarded. In the 50th minute, Salim Rashid found Moroccan star Mbark Boussoufa, who blasted in his first goal. Boussoufa was all charged up and 'come on' was his call to his team mates. And they answered the rallying call with some desperate stuff. Suddenly attacks flowed.
Boussoufa was orchestrating things well. Al Jazira doubled their score in the 58th minute with a quickly taken corner that took Al Wahda defence by surprise. Keeper Adel Ahosani parried away the corner but it wasn't clean and Fares Juma headed in to level score.
Al Wahda players protested against the corner and tempers flared following this incident. Valdivia received a second yellow for a rough tackle on Salim Rashid. The Chilean was out and Al Wahda were left with 10 men with 24 minutes remaining.
Al Jazira were also penalised when referee awarded a second yellow to Salem Abdulla for his sliding challenge on Suhail Al Mansoori. With 14 minutes left, it was10 men-a-side. Both the end saw late action but the night drew to a close with 2-2 draw.
Al Wahda: Sebastian Tagliabue (58), Mansur Abdulla (28), Sultan Al Ghafri (23), Jorge Valdivia (9, 66 Red)
Al Jazira: Sultan Al Suwaidi (90), Salem Abdullah (38, 76 Red), Salim Rashid (26)
Al Wahda: Sebastian Tagliabue (35), Jorge Valdivia (6)
Al Jazira: Fares Juma (58), Mbark Boussoufa (50)