Al-Najaf’s first win of the season at home to Naft Maysan lifted them off the foot of the table.
The winner in first half stoppage time came from the home side’s captain Tahir Hamed whose deflected shot wrong-footed the unlucky visiting keeper.
Al-Najaf with the leakiest defence in the Iraqi league sat joint bottom with Al-Kahraba on four points from nine matches. In complete contrast to their opponents Naft Maysan who were riding high this season and a win could have seen them move joint second.
In the first half neither side registered any attempts on target, in a scrappy first forty-five littered with fouls and stoppages supplemented by the sounding whistle of referee Wathiq Mohammed which echoed around the empty Al-Najaf International Stadium.
But in stoppage time Tahir Hamed scored with fortuitous strike when his deflected long range effort beat Naft Maysan’s keeper Alaa Ahmed to give the home side the lead. The Najaf captain was later stretchered off injured in the second half and replaced by Ahmed Jabar fifteen minutes before the end.
The goal opened the game up, with Naft Maysan playing more adventurous in the final third as they pushed up, leaving Al-Najaf’s two frontmen Mohammed Hamadco and Muaan Ahmed to exploit the space in the visitor’s defence.
The visitors pushed for an equaliser in the final stages with their best chance coming seven minutes from the end through their captain and top scorer Wisam Saadoun who headed over the bar from six yards while Akram Rahim’s spectacular overhead kick hit the side netting in stoppage time.
Al-Najaf 1-0 Naft Maysan
Tahir Hamed 45 (+1)
Al-Najaf: 22 Abbas Talib; 28 Ahmed Abdul-Hussein, 5 Mohanad Arzeij, 29 Baba Mousa, 4 Alaa Al-Shbli, 2 Karrar Amer, 8 Tahir Hamed [c] (20 Ahmed Jabar 74’), 7 Ali Qasim (10 Ali Ayad 89’), 13 Ali Rashid (18 Yassir Abdul-Muhsin 59’), 19 Mohammed Hamadco, 17 Muaan Ahmed.
COACH: Thair Jassam
Naft Maysan: 30 Alaa Ahmed, 4 Osama Ali, 5 Ruslan Hanoon, 25 Hussein Kheiri, 14 Ali Abdul-Kadhim (13 Jafar Ali 86’), 31 Akram Rahim, 25 Ahmed Mohammed (6 Thamir Bargsh 62’), 17 Mustafa Hussein (23 Mohammed Mizher 74’), 15 Wisam Saadoun [c], 8 Hassan Humoud, 26 Mustafa Hamid.
COACH: Ahmed Daham
Referee: Wathiq Mohammed
Cautions: Ali Rasheed 29′, Alaa Al-Shbli 34′, Akram Rahim 51′, Ruslan Hanoon 52′, Abbas Talib 90 (+1)