Al Nasr edge Shabab Al Ahli to lift Arabian Gulf Cup

Al Nasr edge Shabab Al Ahli to lift Arabian Gulf Cup

Dubai: Alvaro Negredo scored the fastest goal in Arabian Gulf Cup history, to lead Al Nasr to their second title after a hard-fought 2-1 victory against defending champions Shabab Al Ahli, at Zabeel Stadium on Friday night.

In rolling the ball into the Shabab Al Ahli net in the eighth second, the Al Nasr hitman created history, setting a new benchmark that is unlikely to be surpassed any time soon.

Former Al Jazira striker Ricardo Oliveira held the previous record for his sixth minute strike during the 2012/13 competition.

After Negredo put Al Nasr ahead, Shabab Al Ahli equalised through Yousef Jaber’s 13th minute header, until Toze stepped up to hammer home a second half winner.

Shabab Al Ahli are the most decorated side in the history of the Arabian Gulf Cup, having won the title four times since the competition was instituted as part of the annual programme in 2011/12. However, just one of those wins was achieved since the merger of the two clubs in 2017, which would have given Al Nasr, winners in 2014/15, hope that the odds weren’t entirely stacked against them.

And accordingly Negredo gave them the perfect start when scoring what could also easily be the fastest goal in UAE club football from what appeared a well-rehearsed kick-off. Toze chipped forward down the centre and Negredo darted forward to slot home delicately on the bounce.

Shabab Al Ahli did not waste time and were back on level terms when Yousef Jaber let Federico Cartabia’s free-kick from the left skew off his head and fly into the far corner past an airborne and outstretched Al Nasr goalkeeper Ahmed Shambieh.

Toze should have reclaimed the lead for Al Nasr in the 39th after Negredo took on a crowd from the opposition singlehandedly and then cut it back only for the Portuguese forward to shoot wide from 12 yards out with just Nasser to beat in the Shabab Al Ahli goal.

But the diminutive forward atoned for that miss in the 50th when Shabab Al Ahli’s attempt to clear deep in their box failed and the ball rolled to Toze, who made no mistake with a low shot inside the left hand corner.

— The author is a sports journalist based in Dubai