Negredo fires Nasr to Arabian Gulf Cup title
It was a carnival atmosphere as the encounter got off to an explosive start
Alvaro Negredo was brilliant on the night as Al Nasr stunned reigning champions Shabab Al Ahli Dubai 2-1 to lift the 2019-20 Arabian Gulf Cup at Zabeel Stadium on Friday.
It was a carnival atmosphere as the encounter got off to an explosive start. Former Manchester City striker Negredo put Al Nasr ahead in just 15 seconds, to net the fastest goal in past few decades. Executing to perfection their training and boardroom strategy, Toze sent a long ball forward as Negredo, even at 34 years of age, blasted his way past the red shirts. Caught napping, Shabab Al Ahli defenders rushed back to stop Negredo but the striker controlled the ball well and nutmegged experienced keeper Majed Naser.
The champions, however, kept calm and pushed on to find an equaliser. The 'Red Knights' finally scored through a free-kick, which Yousif Jaber headed into Al Nasr goal.
In end-to-end stuff, flurry of opportunities were created and missed at either end. On one occasion, Shabab Al Ahli's Leonardo released the ball inside the Al Nasr box where Abdullah Al Naqbi was well-placed but couldn't find direction and Saoud Abdulrazaq slammed the rebound wide. Also, Argentina Fede Cartabia came close to putting Al Ahli ahead. It was not turning into their night. Towards the end of the first half, Al Nasr had a glorious chance to score. Negredo set Toze inside the box but the Portuguese midfielder's thunderous shot whizzed past the goal post.
However, five minutes into the second half, Toze did make amends thanks to a defender's slapstick mistake. Amid a melee inside the box, young defender Saoud Abdulrazaq gifted the ball to Toze, who fired into the far left of Shabab Al Ahli goal as keeper Naser looked helplessly at his defender's shoddy clearance.
The reigning champions, however, hung on. Shabab Al Ahli kept possession and maintained pressure but couldn't find elusive equaliser as Al Nasr defence stood firm.
Shabab Al Ahli coach Rodolfo Arruabarrena replaced young Hareb Abdullah with Ismail Al Hammadi. And the 31-year-old winger immediately made an impact. In final moments, Al Hammadi and Shabab Al Ahli were denied only by a sharp work from Al Nasr keeper Ahmed Shambih.
Five additional minutes, saw an all-out attack from Shabab Al Ahli. In the face of rising tensions, heated exchange of words which saw an official receive a red card. Al Nasr held on to lift only their second title following the success in 2014-15 season.
The final was an absorbing one in which both sides threw everything they had and the better team won.
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