Dubai: Al Wasl gained neighbourly bragging rights with a closely-fought 2-1 win against Al Nasr after Al Shabab had powered to the top in the third round of the Arabian Gulf League (AGL) late on Friday.
After Al Shabab had scaled to the summit of the 14-team standings following a 2-0 win against Bani Yas earlier in the evening, much was expected from the Bur Dubai derby. And neither side disappointed the nearly full Zabeel stadium as action waned from one end to the other.
With both sides playing a closely-marked match, it was Al Wasl who took the lead in the 23rd minute when Caio Canedo curled in a first-timer after receiving from Fabio De Lima. The visitors drew level a minute from the half-time whistle when Abdul Aziz Baradda’s free kick found the far corner of the Al Wasl net. However, De Lima got the match-winner eight minutes from the final whistle when he dummied a couple of defenders and poked past Ahmad Shambieh on the Al Nasr goal.
Al Shabab are now at the summit of the 14-team standings with maximum nine points, while Al Wasl joined defending champions Al Ahli and Al Ain in the upper half with six points apiece.
Watched by more than 6,000 fans, the derby witnessed some continuous action from the start with both teams doing well to keep the spectators entertained throughout the 90 minutes of play.
After both teams had tested each other’s strengths, the first bit of real action came in the 23rd minute as Canedo curled in a beauty from the edge of the box after receiving from De Lima. Al Nasr responded well with Al Wasl goalkeeper Rashid Ali flinging himself to deny Barrada a certain equaliser.
However, the visitors did not have to wait for long as it was Barrada who brought things on level terms in the 44th minute when he curled in a free kick from the edge of the box, giving Rashid Ali no chance.
There was drama in the 56th minute when referee Abdullah Al Ajel pointed to the spot after ruling that Khalid Sebil had handled the ball inside the area. However, better sense prevailed and the referee overturned his decision after consulting with his assistant.
The home team continued pressing for a winner, and they nearly got one in the 75th minute when a stiff goalward bound shot from Khalil Khamis was tipped over by an alert Shambieh on the Al Wasl goal.
With the clock ticking, it was De Lima who ensured full points for the team from Zabeel when he received from Canedo, played a fine dummy with a couple of chasing defenders and placed into a tight acute angle past Shambieh. Al Nasr went all out for at least an equaliser, and even an added five minutes did not yield a positive result as Al Wasl deservedly gained full points.
Encounters between the two neighbours have been closely contested with Al Nasr winning 2-0 at home in the third round last season, while the Al Zabeel club made amends towards the end of the season by winning 3-2.
In the second late night match, Hatta secured full points at home with a 2-1 win against Kalba. Adrian Ropotan gave the home side the lead in the 34th minute and Adnan Al Beloushi doubled the tally in the 77th minute, while Hamad Abdul Rahman pulled back a consolation goal just before the full-time whistle.