Al Nasr threw everything at visitors Arsenal and were by far the better side for 45 minutes before succumbing to a 3-2 defeat as they opened their new Al Maktoum Stadium in fine fashion.
The Blue Wave christened their new home in suitable style with a goal fit to grace any game. They’d started brighter and got their reward when Chilean Ronnie Fernandez heated the game up with a sumptuous curling effort that beat a despairing Bernd Leno and went in off the inside of the post.
Arsenal, second best throughout the opening 45 minutes, equalised via Denis Suarez’s exquisite vision. He picked out Carl Jenkinson’s run and after the much-maligned right-back’s first effort cannoned off the upright, he thumped home the rebound.
A raft of changes – all 11 players were replaced at the break by Nasr boss Benat San Jose – seemed excessive given their first half showing. But when Arsenal are in town, everyone wants some of the action and they paid thereafter as Alexandre Lacazette put the Premier League giants 2-1 ahead before Tyreece John-Jules scored the killer third.
The hosts had something to cheer about late on when Rashed Omar was bundled over and Khalid Jalal calmly stroked home to make it 3-2.
Here is our Al Nasr ratings:
AL NASR (4-4-2)
Ahmed Shambieh 6: Flapped at a few crosses and looked a bit nervous, but came out early to deny Lacazette.
Ahmed Ibrahim 7: Typified Nasr’s belief as he got forward to join attacks. Had trouble keeping tabs on Medley and Suarez though.
Masoud Sulaiman 7: Formed a brick wall alongside Oumari as Arsenal struggled. Could have had a goal too, his header blocked by Leno’s knees.
Joan Oumari 6: Lebanon veteran let Lacazette know he was there early on with a clattering challenge. Bossed things at the back otherwise.
Mahmoud Khamis 7: An expressive player and he used this big stage to show us his stuff. Gave Jenkinson a torrid time as he marauded forward.
Junior Dutra 7: Quiet start, surging run down the right led to the opening goal. Showed poise to cut ball back to Fernandez.
Amer Mubarak 7: Thrived against young midfield opponents who were surprised by Nasr’s insurgence and energy.
Tariq Ahmed 7: Tenacious and energetic as ever. Showed brilliant feet to trick Lacazette to get out of a tight situation in his own box.
Alhussain Saleh 8: Nasr were enjoying a lot of joy down both flanks, largely due to the excellent work of the lightening quick Saleh and Dutra.
Alvaro Negredo 7: The Beast lived up to his name, proving a handful for Arsenal’s defence. Couple of early sighters. Wasteful. Could have had a hat-trick…against Arsenal.
Ronnie Fernandez 8: Really good movement up front. Should have scored inside 60 seconds but shot tamely at Leno. A thorn in the side. Opened scoring with a stunning strike.
Mohamed Marzouk 6: Got a slice of the action but had a job patching up an increasingly dishevelled defence.
Yousef Jaber 6: Endured a tough time as Arsenal’s raft of rapid replacements ran Nasr ragged.
Ahmed Jashak 6: Slotted into midfield and even though his side were looking leggy, he pushed forward.
Ali Hussain 6: Tried to pin down an increasingly rampant Gunners’ midfield.
Khalid Jalal 7: A raft of changes made it difficult to maintain any rhythm but he patrolled midfield admirably. Converted his penalty stylishly.
Rashed Omar 7: Good energy in the final third as it crumbled behind him. Bundled over for the late penalty.
Mohamed Bouherrafa 5: Looked off the pace, roasted by Maitland-Niles.
Ibrahim Essa 6: Replaced Shambieh and had a busy outing, helpless for both goals conceded.
Khamis Esmail 6: Surprised to see an Al Wasl player putting on the Nasr blue. Tried to take Cech by surprise with a long-ranger. Wide, but only just.
Saeed Sowaidan 5: Came on and lasted 20 minutes before being forced off.
Mohammed Fawzi 6: Veteran slotted in at right back and didn’t do much wrong.
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