AFC CL: Al Ain thump El Jaish to win home leg 3-1
Al Ain Midfielder Omar Abdul Rahman celebrate after scoring a goal in the first half of the AFC Champions League semifinal at the Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium in Al Ain on Tuesday.
Al Ain - This was a near perfect team effort for Al Ain
An 'earthquake' struck Al Ain on Tuesday night and the epicentre was Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium. The stadium reverberated with brute yell of celebrations during the first leg of the AFC Champions League semifinals.
'We are the boss' proclaimed the 'Ainawi tifo' and the team played like a leader as goals from skipper Omar Abdulrahman aka Amoory, striker Dyanfres Douglas and new signing Caio Fernandes destroyed Qatari side El Jaish. The visitors were able to pull one back through a second half penalty (3-1).
This was a near perfect team effort for Al Ain. New signing Caio Fernandes showed his range and calibre, Amoory was sublime and Fawzi Fayez effective. Mohnad Salem was rock-solid in defence and negated many threatening moves. Danilo Asprilla came in as a substitute and frustrated the defence and Al Ain fans too. He had some three chances gone awry.
The match began on a high tempo that stayed throughout the match. Right from the start, on-field incidents were ominous for Al Ain. Two free kicks, two Omar deliveries and two fumbles by keeper Khalifa Ababacar, who was a sorry figure in front of the goal. And in the 16th minute, Al Ain struck. It was a fine pass by Saeed Mosabah to Omar Abdulrahman, who on the turn outsmarted El Jaish defence to chip a pass for Dyanfres Douglas, who headed home for Al Ain lead.
Five minutes later 'Amoory' converted through a free-kick. He bended the ball into the right corner of the goal. Ababacar jumped high but in vain. By now, the Qatari defence was limping and attacks continued to flow.
El Jaish too had their moments. Their Uzbek star Sardor Rashidov was a constant bother. In the dying moments of first half, Brazilian forward Romarinho Ricardo even disturbed the woodwork.
Ten minutes after break, the Qatari side pulled one back but through a harsh penalty. Rashidov was on the run and shot towards the goal. Defender Ismail Ahmed made a slide and the ball hit his hand inside the danger area. The referee pointed to the spot. Al Jaish striker Ans sent Khalid Eisa the wrong way with his spot kick.
Minutes later, Al Ain wasted a good chance. Omar bisected the Qatari defence to put Douglas through. Ababacar ran forward and the Brazilian had an open goal but failed to hit the target.
Soon coach Zlatko Dalic made his first change - Danilo Asprilla came in for Mohammed Abdulrahman. The Colombian had at least three chances but failed to convert them. In the 82nd minute, Ababacar had to be at his acrobatic best to keep away a Douglas attempt.
And in the 90th minute, Al Ain hit the final nail.
Omar floated the ball into the danger area. Ababacar rushed forward to punch it out but missed and the ball fell to Caio, who slotted the ball in empty net to make it 3-1.
With this win, Al Ain have got one back on the Qatari side. The 'Boss' had lost previous two group stage encounters. And now the action shifts to Doha with return leg on October 18.
Al Ain: Dyanfres Douglas (16), Omar Abdulrahman (21), Caio Fernandes (90+1)
El Jaish: Sardor Rashidov (52)
El Jaish: Yasir Isa (39)
Al Ain Striker Dyanfres Douglas celebrates with his teammates after scoring a goal against Qatari champions Al Jaish in the AFC Champions League semifinal at Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium in Al Ain.