Al Ain’s continental aspirations appear over for 2019 as they suffered a 2-0 home defeat to Al Duhail.
Almoez Ali and Youssef El Arabi goals either side of the break earned Rui Faria’s side victory in the Garden City – a result that leaves Juan Carlos Garrido’s side on the brink of elimination from the 2019 AFC Champions League.
Here we take a closer look at the performance of the home side’s Tongo Doumbia who stood out despite the defeat.
Garrido saw his side summon a superhuman effort in the reverse fixture as the brave Boss came from 2-0 down to salvage a deserved point two weeks ago. And the Spaniard may have felt the same miraculous powers of recovery would be needed again when his side conceded after just three minutes, Ali nodding in Edmilson’s cross following fine footwork that bamboozled Tsukasa Shiotani.
The hosts had their fair share of possession but created few chances – Bandar Al Ahbabi firing a free-kick over soon after and Ahmed Barman shooting wide, but Amine Lecomte-Addani was fairly untroubled in the visiting goal.
Their lack of creative spark showed when Garrido introduced Rayan Yaslam and Marcus Berg from the bench in quick succession but it proved in vain as El Arabi killed off home hopes when Shoya Nakajima dummied Ali’s low centre and he rifled high beyond Khalid Essa.
GOT RIGHT – KEPT HIS SIDE IN THE FIGHT
Doumbia has been in and out of the side in recent weeks but in times of strife, warriors were needed and he certainly battled hard for 90 minutes as Al Ain tried to pull off another heroic fightback.
Anchoring the midfield alongside Barman, the Mali international stood tall amid an early barrage of Duhail domination, breaking up attacks and providing a calm presence in the Boss’ engine room.
He was alert and forceful when needed and when the red-shirted visitors were repelled he was always a calm figure to receive the ball and try to spark Al Ain attacks.
GOT WRONG – ROUGH TREATMENT
In recent weeks Al Ain have been crying out for an enforcer, someone to grab them by the scruff of the neck and drag them out of the doldrums. And Doumbia certainly fits the bill.
He is powerful, agile and tough as nails – and can also play a bit. But there were times in the second half, and with the game starting to slide by Al Ain, that he appeared to be walking a tightrope.
He incensed Dubail players when he left Edmilson in a heap, although he barely brushed the Brazilian attacker. But it was certainly done out of frustration and hardly helped his side’s cause.
VERDICT – 6/10
Calm and composed in the face of a deadly Duhail attack, Doumbia at least put his body on the line as he patrolled midfield and snuffed out regular attacks. The former Wolves, Toulouse and Dinamo Zagreb midfielder was always an outlet for his defenders and was never afraid to put his foot in where it hurt.
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