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Al Nasr 0-2 Al Ahli: Winning start continues for Cosmin

Al Ahli maintained their 100% start to the season by becoming the only side to take maximum points from their opening three Arabian Gulf League fixtures, beating Al Nasr 2-0 at the Al Maktoum Stadium on Thursday night. In a fiercely contested fixture, a Luis Jiminez header and a Ciel penalty were enough to seal victory for the visitors.

The Dubai derby began as a feisty encounter with both teams playing at pace and challenging strongly for every ball. In the first three minutes, Al Ahli broke forward with Ismaeel Al Hammadi exhibiting frightening speed but Bader Yaqoot timed his tackle well in the area to deny a shooting opportunity. In the 5th minute at the other end of the pitch Hassan Ameen’s curling delivery almost found Ibrahima Toure but the big Senegalese striker clattered into Al Ahli goalkeeper Saif Yousif in an aerial challenge to concede a free kick. In a frantic opening half hour, there was a positive break upfield for Al Ahli as Majed Hassan set away Ciel but Luis Jiminez was wayward with his finish. Grafite showed amazing strength to carry the ball from his own half almost to the byline, squeezing a shot on target through 3 Al Nasr bodies but youngster Ahmad Shambieh saved at the near post, and a minute later Grafite stole possession in the middle of the park and set Hammadi away on a pacey run but Shambieh was quick out of his goal to clear for a corner. Hugo Viana whipped in a fierce 38th minute free kick which Shambieh saw late but was able to punch away, and the game remained goalless at half time despite a whole host of chances for both sides.

Immediately after the restart Shambieh had to be alert to push a fierce Luis Jiminez shot over the crossbar, and again showed rapid reactions to stop Walid Abbas’ header from the resulting corner. Al Nasr captain Habib Al Fardan had a rising shot from distance in the 52nd minute, and in the 63rd minute Al Fardan was shaping up to shoot in the box but teammate Ibrahima Toure took the chance from the tip of the captain’s toes and put his effort wide of the post. Just a minute later Al Nasr were punished for their missed opportunities in front of goal as Luis Jiminez got in front of Leo Lima to head home a Hugo Viana corner, making it 1-0 to Al Ahli in the 64th minute. The visitors’ lead was to be doubled five minutes later with the award of a penalty as Ciel was brought down in the area by substitute Al Nasr defender Masoud Hassan, and the Brazilian picked himself up and dusted himself off to blast a powerful spot kick past Shambieh and make it 2-0 to Al Ahli in the 69th minute. Three minutes later Al Ahli almost got a third but Grafite’s shot was blocked by a last-ditch Bader Yaqoot tackle, and a minute later at the other end Brett Holman went close to pulling one back for the hosts but Azooz Haikal got a crucial touch. In the 84th minute Ibrahima Toure looked certain to score for Al Nasr but Al Ahli goalkeeper Saif Yousif came out bravely to save with his feet. Ciel went close with a late free kick before being substituted to hearty applause for Ahmad Khalil, and Al Nasr suffered further headache as Helal Saeed was sent off for his second bookable offence in injury time for a late tackle on Khalil.