Muscat: Ely Chiekh Samba scored twice as Al Nahda handed Salam Zgharta a 4-1 thrashing to haul themselves into contention for a place in the Round of 16 of the 2015 AFC Cup from Group A on Tuesday evening.
Samba scored twice in five first half minutes before Mansoor Al Naaimi and Mohammed Al Shamsi also found the back of the net for the Omanis while Lucas Galan scored what turned out to be little more than a consolation for Salam Zgharta four minutes into the second half.
“We are extremely happy with this victory as we deserved to win the match today,” said Al Nahda’s Portuguese coach Bernardo Tavares.
“We had a great performance in the first half and we scored three goals in the first 20 minutes which helped us to win the match.
“The players were tired due to the heavy league schedule and this was clear in the second half as the performance dropped.
“However, the players tried their best to hold on to the lead and we managed to score a fourth goal late in the second half to win the match with this result.”
Samba gave Al Nahda the perfect start in the 14th minute when his cunning feint deceived Salam Zgharta goalkeeper Mohamad Dakramanji, allowing him to roll the ball into an empty net.
Five minutes later, Samba doubled his side’s lead when he had the time and space to score from near the penalty spot after a cross from Mansoor Al Naaimi on the right.
By the 28th minute, Al Nahda were 3-0 ahead when Ismail Al Ajmi sent his free kick to the far post and Al Naaimi hit a first-time shot that went in off the crossbar.
Nine minutes from half time Salam Zgharta had the chance to pull themselves back into the game when they were awarded a penalty but Lucas Galan sent his effort from 12 yards wide of the goal.
Galan made amends four minutes after the restart when the Lebanese side were awarded a second penalty as he slotted the ball to the left of Al Nahda goalkeeper Abdullah Al Mamari but the Omani side restored their three-goal cushion a minute into injury time when Al Shamsi beat the offside trap to score.
“I’m really disappointed about the chances that we missed in the second half as we could have got a positive result, especially because we pulled a goal back early in the second half and we had many chances to make a good comeback,” said Salam Zgharta coach Pieter Meindertsma.
“Al Nahda took an early lead in the match and the goals they scored confused our players and affected them mentally. We tried our best to avoid mistakes in the second half but we didn’t take advantage of our superiority.”