Players of Al Wahda and Bani Yas in action during their semi-final match of Arabian Gulf Cup on Friday. Supplied photo
DUBAI: An impressive second half performance helped Al Wahda seal their spot in the final of the Arabian Gulf Cup after overpowering Bani Yas 4-1 at Al Nahyan Stadium on Friday.
The title holders will now prepare for the final against Shabab Al Ahli, who overcame Al Nasr on penalties in the other semi-final.
The game got off to a fiery start and the Clarets found themselves in front just two minutes after kick-off. The fall to Khalil Ibrahim following a scramble inside the box and the 25-year-old fired a shot into the left corner of the net to give his side an early 1-0 advantage.
Al Wahda dominated possession in the early stages of the game but their lead didn’t last long as the Sky Blues leveled the scoreline only 10 minutes after the opening goal. Pedro Conde capitalized on a defensive blunder to net the equalizer.
The Al Wahda defense failed to clear a long ball as it fell to the Spanish forward inside the box who dribbled past the keeper and netted home.
This marked the first goal that Al Wahda conceded in the Arabian Gulf Cup this season as they kept a clean sheet in all previous six games.
Al Wahda were forced to make an early substitution as Mohamed Alhammadi came to replace goalscorer Ibrahim in the 20th minute.
The Clarets came close to regaining the lead before halftime, but Mohamed Alhammadi pulled a fine save to deny Sebastian Tagliabue’s header deep into injury time as they headed into the break deadlocked at 1-1.
Hamdan Al-Kamali was denied by the Bani Yas keeper in the 58th minute but Al Wahda’s pressure eventually paid off as they regained their lead through Tagliabue only a minute later. Leonardo de Souza’s cross hit the woodwork and the Argentine forward latched onto the rebound to find the back of the net.
With seven minutes to go, the Clarets put the win beyond any doubt thanks to a third goal from Leonardo de Souza. The Brazilian forward fired a right-footed strike from the edge of the box that nestled into the right corner of Alhammadi’s net.
To add insult to injury, Al Wahda netted a fourth goal two minutes from time. Tagliabue found Ismail Matar’s pass inside the box before calmly slotting past Alhammadi to make it 4-1.
This marked a repeat to their recent league encounter, which saw Al Wahda emerge victorious 4-1.
Al Nasr reached the semi-final after finishing on top of Group B and defeating Al Wasl on penalties in the quarter-final. Shabab Al Ahli were second in Group A and overcame Al Jazira to reach the semis.