Shabab Al Ahli got off to a strong start and controlled the possession in the early stages of the game. Mohamed Juma forced Al Wahda goalkeeper Rashed Al Suwaidi into a save only three minutes after kick-off, while Saud Abdelrazaq tried his luck 15 minutes later but was denied by Al Suwaidi.
On the half-hour mark, Shabab Al Ahli came close to finding the back of the net. Juma found the ball on the edge of the box before dribbling past a defender, but his close-range shot hit the woodwork.
The Clarets responded five minutes later. Right after coming on as a substitute for Abdulla Anwar, Sebastian Tagliabue teed up the on-rushing Ismail Matar whose strike was brilliantly saved by Majed Naser.
The final five minutes of the first half were a different story. Shabab Al Ahli broke the deadlock five minutes before the interval. An inch-perfect cross from Abdelaziz Ali found Henrique Luvannor inside the box, and the Moldova international slotted home to give his side a 1-0 advantage.
Shabab Al Ahli’s lead, however, didn’t last long as Argentine veteran Tagliabue leveled the scores in the dying moments of the first half.
The 34-year-old forward’s powerful strike curled beyond Nasser, his fourth goal in the Arabian Gulf Cup this season.
Substitute Ismail Al Hammadi tested Al Suwaidi in the 66th minute but the latter was alert as the game remained deadlocked.
Shabab Al Ahli piled on the pressure as they searched for the winner in the remaining minutes. Al Suwaidi denied another replacement Jaime Ayovi with four minutes to go, before saving Majed Hassan’s effort deep in injury time.
Neither side could find the winning goal in the closing stages, forcing the clash into extra-time.
It was the cue for Rodolfo Arruabarrena’s side to take charge as, only five minutes after the restart, Shabab Al Ahli took a 2-1 lead. After capitalising on a defensive mistake from Wahda defenders, Ayovi sent a close-range effort past Al Suwaidi to take his side a step closer towards the title.
As the Clarets pushed for an equaliser, Shabab scored their third of the night to put the result beyond any doubt.
Al Hammadi dribbled past a host of Wahda defenders inside the box before passing the ball to Mauro Diaz. Ecuador forward Ayovi found the Argentine midfielder’s pass and slotted home his second of the night.
To add insult to injury, Henk ten Cate’s side were reduced to 10 men six minutes from time as Leonardo was sent off after being shown a second yellow card.
Wahda, who have two titles to their name, failed to become the first team to win the trophy two years in a row. Meanwhile, Shabab Al Ahli won a record-extending fourth title after they were named champions in 2012, 2014 and 2017.
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