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AFC Cup MD4: Riffa 0-3 Arbil     2/04/2014 1:05:41 AM


Manama: Arbil returned to the top of Group D in the AFC Cup as a late rush of goals gave the Iraqi side a 3-0 victory over Riffa of Bahrain at the National Stadium in Mananma on Tuesday.
In a clash between the top two sides in their group, Luay Salah broke the deadlock with a 74th minute header and Borja Rubiato then added a brace in the closing minutes as Arbil avenged a 2-1 home defeat to the Bahraini club two weeks ago.
Arbil are now on nine points while Riffa dropped to second place, two points behind the leaders and just one in front of Jordan’s Shabab Al Ordon, who edged Kyrgyzstan side Alay 1-0 in Tuesday’s other Group D game.
“We won tonight thanks to a good performance from the players who felt the importance of the match after the defeat in our last game,” said Arbil coach Ayob Odisho. “The players showed good coherence and great unity in order to achieve victory tonight.
“We made some changes in the second half and we introduced more attacking players which put some pressure on the Riffa defence. This helped us to take advantage of their mistakes and score goals in the second period.”
Riffa had the upper hand in the first half as they sought to build on their earlier win over Arbil and establish a clear lead in the group. But they couldn’t find a way past the Arbil defence and goalkeeper Jalal Hassan Hachim.
Arbil were a constant threat on the counter-attack in the first half and they began to take control of proceedings before finally making the breakthrough with 16 minutes left.
A corner from the right by Nabeel Sabah picked out Salah who out-jumped the Riffa defence to head the ball past goalkeeper Hamad Al Doseri.
Another Sabah corner in the 85th minute produced Arbil’s second goal as Saad Abdulameer flicked the ball on for Rubiato who turned the ball into the net with another header from close range.
And Sabah also played a huge part in the Arbil’s third goal in the final minute as his free-kick from the right found Rubiato who used his head once again to put the ball past Al Doseri.
Riffa coach Florin Motroc felt that the final scored was not reflective of the match itself.
“The result would indicate that we didn’t have a good performance but this was not what happened tonight. We played a good first half and we had some chances but we couldn’t score while Arbil had only one minor chance,” said the Romanian.
“I asked the players at half time not to open the play and wait for a while. But unfortunately some players didn’t follow our instructions and made some mistakes which led to this result.”