Al-Wahda Sports Club have cruised into the quarter-finals of the FIFA Club World Cup, beating Hekari United 3-0 in front of a crowd of over 23,000 at the Mohammad Bin Zayed Stadium. The Abu Dhabi outfit benefited from a bit of Brazilian magic to see off the Oceanian champions, with goals from Hugo and Fernando Baiano setting them on course for a victory later sealed by substitute Abdulraheem Jumaa.
While it was ultimately comfortable for the local favourites, they very nearly found themselves behind inside six minutes, when Hekari came within a whisker of a shock opener. Indeed, only a timely goal-line clearance from the well-positioned Fahed Masoud prevented right-back Pita Bolatoga’s powerful downward header from finding the net.
Having struggled to create opportunities during some tense opening exchanges, Al Wahda finally came to life on the quarter-hour mark. Twice within the space of a minute, Fernando Baiano forced Simione Tamanisau into action, first testing the goalkeeper’s reflexes with a low shot on the turn and then watching as an angled right-foot drive was tipped round the post.
The Al Wahda No9 was again involved soon after, playing in strike partner Ismail Matar for a left-foot shot that flashed just wide of the far post. However, when the Abu Dhabi outfit did eventually break the deadlock with five minutes of the first half remaining, it was another Brazilian, Hugo, who provided the inspiration, lashing an unstoppable left-foot shot into the bottom corner from the edge of the area.
Fernando Baiano would not be denied, however, and a minute before half-time he dealt Hekari a crushing blow, sprinting through on to a defence-splitting pass from Fahed Masoud and beating Tamanisau at his near post to double the hosts’ lead. With the wind having been knocked out of the Papua New Guineans’ sails, Al Wahda continued to dominate after the restart, with Matar and Mahmoud Al Hammadi both going close to adding a third early in the second half.
And the outcome was finally put beyond doubt with 19 minutes remaining when a calamitous mix-up between Tamanisau and Koriak Upaiga, both of whom went for the same cross, allowed substitute Abdulraheem Jumaa to head into the unguarded net.