Leonardo de Sousa’s half-volley sealed a 1-0 win for Al Wahda over Shabab Al Ahli at Maktoum bin Rashid Al Maktoum Stadium in matchweek 1 of the Arabian Gulf Cup.
Al Wahda had an early chance inside seven minutes of the game when Sebastian Tagliabue found Leonardo on the edge of the area, but the Brazilian’s strike was saved by Hassan Hamza.
The Clarets came knocking on the door once more six minutes later; Ismail Matar whipped in a cross from the right hand side but Hamza tipped Rim Chang-woo’s header over the bar.
Mohamed Juma came agonisingly close to netting the opener for the hosts with 28 minutes on the clock, when he latched onto a perfectly weighted through pass by Emiliano Vecchio, but his finish was tipped onto the post by Rashed Ali.
Shabab Al Ahli wasted two good chances at the other end after the restart; with 50 minutes on the clock, Luvannor Henrique’s low cross found Mohamed Jaber on the far post but the latter’s finish skimmed across the mouth of goal.
Just two minutes later, Mauro Diaz’s corner found Abdelaziz Haikal, whose header smacked against the bar.
With 64 minutes on the clock, Mourad Batna’s deflected header fell to the unmarked Leonardo who finished on the half-volley to make it 1-0 Al Wahda.
In injury time, Emiliano Vecchio unleashed a strike from outside the area which slammed against the post, in what proved to be the final chance of the game.
The win leaves Al Wahda top of Group A with three points to their name ahead of Sunday’s home clash with Al Wasl. Meanwhile Shabab Al Ahli lie at the bottom of the group standings and will not be involved in next week’s action.