Al Nasr players did everything right to earn a valuable narrow 1-0 win over Al Ain to make it into the last four of the President Cup at the Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium on Thursday night.
The recent Asian Champions League finalists, runners-up too in the President’s Cup earlier last year, were some way short of their best in this bitty quarter-final, suffering initially from the absence of a half-fit Omar Abdulrahman.
Currently the continent’s player of the year, the Al Ain playmaker was not healthy enough to start, and did not make his entrance until half-time, but by that stage his side were 1-0 down and on their way out.
You see, Jassim Yaqoub had already struck for Nasr. The Nasr forward, a livewire for much of the first half, finished an expert counter-attack from the Dubai club, rushing on to Wanderley’s pass and sending his effort inside Khalid Essa’s near post. There were only 26 minutes on the clock, but it proved the decisive blow.
Al Ain did have their chances, chiefly through Caio, Douglas and substitute Ibrahim Diaky, yet either Nasr goalkeeper Abdullah Ismail stood firm or his rivals in purple could not find the target. Nasr held on, despite manager Dan Petrescu being banished to the stands, and despite defender Hussain Abbas receiving a second booking during injury time. The 2015 winners stride into the semi-finals.