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Al Wahda crowned Arabian Gulf Cup champions

posted on 02/04/2016: 1647 views

A strike off the very first move and a red card to influential playmaker Jorge Valdivia one minute from half-time was a major part of the drama as Al Wahda were crowned champions against Al Shabab in the Arabian Gulf Cup at Al Nasr's Al Maktoum Stadium on Friday.

Scoring the only goal of the match with just 13 seconds gone was former Arsenal star Denilson, while Valdivia – his provider on the night – was given the marching orders with a minute left for half-time for a foul on Al Shabab captain Carlos Villanueva.

Both teams were keen on the trophy with the Abu Dhabi outfit last winning the Super Cup in 2012, while Al Shabab had clinched the Gulf Champions League last season under coach Caio Junior.

It was 28-year-old Denilson setting the tone of the final when he snapped up a delectable true ball from Valdivia with just 13 seconds gone to give his team the lead. The Sao Paulo native - who spent more than six seasons with Arsene Wenger's Arsenal before going on loan to his native Brazil – was at the heart of the Al Wahda attack on a damp field that made controlled play difficult due to yesterday's consistent rains.

Undeterred by the early setback, Al Shabab hung in and proceeded with their frank and earnest display in search of the equaliser that always looked likely, but never came till the very end.

The biggest culprit perhaps was Brazilian Juninho Potiguar, who had at least a couple of chances to find the back of the net. In the second minute the diminutive Dawood Ali sent in an inch-perfect cross that Juninho chested and shot straight into Adel Al Hosani. Ten minutes later, Carlos Villanueva turned provider and yet again the Brazilian could not shoot past the Al Wahda goalkeeper.

However, the match took a decisive turn again with a minute left for half-time as referee Adel Al Naqbi sent Valdivia for an early shower with a straight red card for a foul on countryman Villanueva.

Playing with one man short in the second half, things were always going to be tough for Al Wahda as their opponents started dictating in search of a goal. The Hawks did well to keep possession, and other than threatening the Al Wahda goal on several occasions, they achieved very little.

Caio Junior sent in the fast-moving Mohammad Juma and Rashid Hassan, but that too had very little bearing on the final result as a stubborn Al Wahda defence held out till the final whistle. – Gulf News -


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