Asamoah Gyan scored his first Arabian Gulf League goal of the season and Miroslav Stoch his first for the club to give ten-man Al Ain a 2–0 win over Al Wasl at the Hazza bin Zayed Stadium.
Al Ain’s cleansheet and solid defensive display will be as worrying to their AGL competitors as the early season form of the league’s top scorer for the past three seasons.
And coach Zlatko Dalic will be pleased with the resilience his team showed after Mohamed Ahmed was sent over for a second bookable offence shortly before the hour mark.
It was Al Ain’s first AGL game of the season, coming four days after their AFC Champions League semi-final second-leg defeat at the hands of Saudi Arabia side Al Hilal.
In the build-up Dalic had told his side to put their midweek disappointment behind them and urged his players to focus on the new AGL season.
They took their time in settling but Al Ain crucially looked far more settled at the back which will have assured Dalic after the manner in which they capitulated against Hilal.
Miroslav Stoch, on his AGL debut, looked menacing and the 24-year-old Slovakian winger almost gave Al Ain the lead on 23 minutes. Stoch’s curling free-kick around the wall striking the bottom of the upright.
It ended up serving as a sign of things to come.
Ghana and Al Ain skipper Gyan then popped up on 38 minutes to give The Boss the lead, calmly placing the ball in the bottom right of Rashed Ali’s goal in typically clinical fashion.
On the stroke of half-time Gyan almost doubled his and his team’s tally when his fine header left the Wasl crossbar rattling but the net without a bulge.
Wasl, who had started so brightly in their first match only to throw away a two-goal lead against Al Dhafra, struggled to get into the game with Brazilian front three Neto Berola, Fabio de Lima and Ederson unable to influence proceedings.
They did look better after the break but were unable to break down their hosts’ defence or create anything of substance, despite their numerical advantage.
As the game wore on Al Ain asserted their superiority and Stoch’s superb 88th minute free-kick was the icing on the cake. This win will go a long way to lifting Al Ain ahead of their semi-final with Hilal at the Hazza in ten days time.
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