Al Ain’s 2018 AFC Champions League campaign is yet to receive ignition after they shared penalties to frustratingly draw 1-1 with Michael Laudrup’s dogged Al Rayyan.
First-half spot-kicks were shared by the Boss’ Sweden No9 Marcus Berg and prolific Morocco striker Abderrazak Hamdallah. The former, vitally, also missed a sack of chances to leave a positive team display unfulfilled and make it successive stalemates in Group D.
BERG FEELS GYAN’S PRESENCE
This was a rare night to forget for the hosts’ marquee summer recruit.
Berg’s performance will not be defined by an expert 10th-minute penalty. It will be his succession of misses – in particular, a woeful 78th-minute air shot.
It is hard to criticise a man with 16 goals in 23 games. But Boss fans will always think, ‘Asamoah Gyan would have scored that’.
Emmanuel Emenike and Douglas are just two to fail this exacting test since the Ghana superstar’s 2015 exit. You would back Berg to make amends, beginning with next month’s key double header versus Winfried Schafer’s Esteghlal.
MAMIC MAGIC HAS NO REWARD
He might not have been on the touchline, but Al Ain coach Zoran Mamic’s presence could be felt throughout this engaging clash.
The suspended ex-Croatia international – sent off in last week’s opening goalless draw at 2017 runners-up Al Hilal – went for broke, cramming in as many attackers as humanly possible.
With rising Egypt star Hussein El Shahat at right-back, this bold approach was only let down by Berg’s surprise profligacy.
On another night, this would have been an enlivening win for the 2002/03 winners. Mamic should not be downhearted.
AMOORY STILL FINDING HIS WAY
A curious and fitful campaign continued for the UAE’s golden boy.
Playmaker Omar Abdulrahman’s all-action display did not betray the fact this was just a 12th start in 2017/18. But, and there have been too many this term, he did not do enough with these openings and certainly did not deserve another surprise man-of-the-match gong.
In particular, a conveyor belt of crosses were cleared by the scrambling Rayyan defence in the second half. Al Ain require more precision.
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