Maradona gets 1st victory as coach in UAE

AP, Thursday 22 Sep 2011

Diego Maradona registered his first competitive victory as Al Wasl coach with a 3-0 home win over Emirates in the Etisalat Cup on Thursday


Mariano Donda broke the deadlock in sublime style early in the second half and Wasl captain Essa Ali made sure of the three points with a brisk brace late on.

Maradona, who has not coached since leading Argentina to the World Cup quarterfinals last year, arrived in Dubai last month to start a two-year contract with Al Wasl.

Wasl began brightly and hit the woodwork twice inside the opening quarter of an hour.

Emirates striker Malek Ahmed inadvertently diverted a Donda free kick onto this own crossbar after three minutes, with Hamad Abdullah eventually clearing away the early danger. Juan Manuel Olivera brought down Fahed Masoud’s cross into the penalty area, only to drill a right-footed shot against the foot of a post with 15 minutes gone.

Hassan Ali drew a brilliant save out of Emirates goalkeeper Mohamed Saeed with a long-range strike midway through the first half as Maradona’s men continued to press for a breakthrough. Essa Ali and Ammar Mubarak forced Saeed into further saves and the overworked keeper could only parry that latter effort out to Olivera, who saw his follow-up cleared off the line by Emirates skipper Mohamed Ali.

As chance after chance went astray, Maradona’s evident frustration grew on the sidelines. He even jokingly waved goodbye to his coaching staff in the hosts’ technical area after Mubarak inexplicably missed an open goal from Yaser Salem’s lofted cutback.

His mood wasn’t improved when Olivera missed an equally presentable opening just prior to the break.

But Donda broke the deadlock in the 47th minute, exchanging a neat one-two with first-half substitute Edson Puch on the edge of the area before firing in a high, unstoppable finish into the net via the upright.

Puch nearly doubled Wasl’s lead on 64 minutes with a curling shot that Saeed athletically tipped over the bar at full stretch.

Emirates rallied as the night wore on and Wasl started to tire in the sweltering heat and humidity. But, they couldn’t find a way past Majed Naser in Wasl’s goal and the outcome was wrapped up with six minutes left on the clock

Puch got to the byeline, fizzed the ball across the goalmouth and Mohamed Ali could only clear it as far as Ali, who simply tapped home his side’s second.

That same duo combined again in stoppage time for the team’s third; Puch chipping in a dangerous delivery that Essa Ali nodded past Saeed with aplomb.

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