LONDON: Alaa Abbas was the hero as Al-Zawraa marked the first-ever AFC Champions League clash to be played in Iraq with a brilliant 5-0 win over the UAE’s Al-Wasl.
Asia’s biggest club competition was greeted in the country by a wall of noise as Al-Zawraa fans packed into the Karbala Sport City Stadium. After a well-earned draw away against Iran’s Zobahan, in what was the side’s first match in the competition for 12 years, there was much anticipation that the Gulls could maintain their promising start to their campaign against the Dubai-based side. And the players did not disappoint their hungry, expectant supporters.
After a strong start which saw Abbas test the Al-Wasl keeper from long distance the hosts took the lead though skipper Samal Saeed after 22 minutes. The defender capitalized on a poor clearance by Abdulla Jassim as he fired in a half-volley to leave Humaid Abdulla no chance in the Al-Wasl net.
That then set up Abbas to be the star as he bagged a brace in a 15-minute period either side of half-time to put the result beyond doubt. The first came via a shot from distance having cut in from the left before firing in from 30 years. The second followed in the 51st minute, this time a tap in from close range.
In between those strikes Al-Wasl’s taks was made much more difficult as aptain Fabio de Lima was shown the red card following a heavy challenge on Mustafa Mohammed. Late strikes from Mohanad Abdulraheem and Hussein Al-Jwayed rounded off a historic night for Iraqi football.