Friendlies round-up: Al Ain finally taste victory but Al Ahli fall to defeat

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On target: Omar Abdulrahman (c).

Winger Rashed Essa stroked home the decisive penalty as Al Ain edged Wydad Casablanca for the inaugural UAE-Morocco Super Cup and gained their first pre-season triumph.

The Boss had battled their way to a 3-3 draw in normal time on Saturday at a raucous Stade Mohammed V, thanks to Omar Abdulrahman, Lee Myung-joo and an own goal from Brahim Nekkach. 

A shootout followed and new boy Fellipe Bastos’ missed from 12 yards but was made up by two superb saves from UAE No2 Khalid Essa to claim a 5-4 victory.

The result ended a four-match winless run for the Arabian Gulf League champions, who had previously drawn with Al Sadd and lost to Lokomotiv Tashkent, Hull City and Al Hilal during the Austrian leg of their preparations. 

The only negative was attackers Ryan Babel and Emmanuel Emenike are still goalless since moving this summer.

Zlatko Dalic saw his side fall behind in the seventh minute when Abdelatif Noussir took advantage of some awful defending to poke home. The Boss responded through star man Omar Abdulrahman’s free-kick, parity ending when forward Fabrice N’Guessi got between leaden-footed centre-backs Ismail Ahmed and Mohanad Salem to volley in.

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An enthralling opening half ended with centre midfielder Lee firing into the roof of the net from 20 yards. Only two goals followed after the break, Emenike’s bravery forcing Nekkach to deflect into his own net before Salaheddine Saidi earned penalties when following up from a late corner.

Meanwhile, Al Ahli ended their Italian tour with a narrow defeat to Serie A new boys Carpi. Brazilian midfielder Raphael Martinho scored the only goal from a 71st-minute rebound as coach Cosmin Olaroiu rotated his squad.

There was disappointment for Al Wahda, Qatar attacking midfielder Hassan Al Haidos’ penalty earning Al Sadd a 1-0 victory.

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Coutinho rocket gives Liverpool revenge

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Coutinho (r) scored an astonishing winner.

Philippe Coutinho scored a stunning late goal as Liverpool avenged their humiliating defeat on last season’s final day against Stoke City with a 1-0 victory on Sunday.

The Reds were thrashed 6-1 — their heaviest defeat in 52 years — at the Britannia Stadium 77 days ago, but made partial amends for that loss with a hard-fought win in their opening Premier League fixture on the same ground.

Neither goalkeeper had a meaningful save to make in the match, which appeared to be destined to end in a goalless draw.

But with four minutes left Brazil international Coutinho, one of five survivors from that capitulation in May, gave Liverpool the points with a sublime long-range effort.

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers gave debuts to four of his close-season signings, with Nathaniel Clyne and Joe Gomez in at full-back, James Milner in midfield and striker Christian Benteke leading the line.

The Potters handed first starts to winger Ibrahim Afellay, midfielder Marco van Ginkel and ex-Liverpool defender Glen Johnson.

Both sides prodded and probed for signs of weakness in the opening 20 minutes.

A miscued shot from Mame Biram Diouf and a sliced effort from Charlie Adam were the best that Stoke could manage, while the visitors showed neat build-up play with Coutinho’s clever runs at the heart of their attacking forays.

Stoke, who were watched in the stands by Inter Milan playmaker Xherdan Shaqiri amid reports of a loan move, opened up the Liverpool defence just after the half-hour mark.

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From Van Ginkel’s cross Afellay saw his volleyed effort blocked by Clyne, with Johnson unable to capitalise on the loose ball as he lifted his effort from near the penalty spot over the crossbar.

Liverpool centre-back Dejan Lovren was fortunate to only escape with a yellow card shortly after the break when his elbow caught Diouf as the pair challenged for a high ball.

Rodgers withdrew the ineffective Adam Lallana for Emre Can just after the hour, but it was Stoke who at that stage looked the most likely to break the deadlock.

Indeed, Liverpool goalkeeper Simon Mignolet did well to tip a dangerous curling free-kick from Adam around the post, as Diouf lurked with intent, before the visitors built some momentum of their own.

Coutinho stole the ball on the edge of the box, but it was pinched back off him, while Benteke subsequently saw his first real effort of the game blocked.

With 15 minutes left Can played an intelligent through-ball for Benteke to chase, only for a combination of Marc Wilson and Geoff Cameron to deny the former Aston Villa man a chance to shoot.

Rodgers gave the visiting supporters their first glimpse of the Brazil attacker Roberto Firmino, but it was his compatriot who provided the game’s standout moment.

In the 86th minute, Coutinho spun away from Stoke substitute Steve Sidwell and ran at goal before unleashing an unstoppable shot from 30 yards that flew over the despairing dive of Stoke goalkeeper Jack Butland and into the net.

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Cech fluffs up as Hammers stun Arsenal

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Incredible start for the Hammers.

Petr Cech made a Premier League debut to forget for Arsenal as his errors helped West Ham United to record a 2-0 victory at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday.

Cech’s arrival from Chelsea has been acclaimed as a signing that could turn Arsenal into title contenders, but he was found wanting as Arsene Wenger’s side opened the Premier League season with a home defeat for the second time in three years.

Cech’s rash charge allowed Cheikhou Kouyate to head West Ham in front from debutant Dimitri Payet’s 43rd-minute free-kick and the Czech international’s slowness to get down saw him beaten at his near post from 25 yards by Mauro Zarate shortly before the hour.

West Ham’s win echoed Aston Villa’s 3-1 success at the Emirates on the first day of the 2013-14 campaign and enabled Slaven Bilic to crown his first league game as manager with a famous victory.

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Bilic named 16-year-old Reece Oxford in midfield and saw the teenager turn in a commanding display as West Ham bounced back from their Europa League elimination at the hands of Romanians Astra Giurgiu last Thursday.

Wenger sent on Theo Walcott and Alexis Sanchez as Arsenal sought to claw back their two-goal deficit, but the closest they came to scoring was a deflected first-half shot by Aaron Ramsey that hit the bar.

Meanwhile, Dutch midfielder Giorginio Wijnaldum scored on his competitive Newcastle United debut as former England head coach Steve McClaren began his managerial tenure at St James’ Park with a 2-2 draw at home to Southampton.

After Graziano Pelle had put the visitors in front, goals from Papiss Cisse and £14.5 million (Dhs79m) new recruit Wijnaldum put Newcastle in front, but Southampton substitute Shane Long headed in a 79th-minute equaliser.

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