First half goals from Alaa Abdul-Zahra and Alassane Diallo saw Al-Shurta keep pace at the top of the Iraqi league after a routine victory over Al-Hussein played in front of only a few hundred spectators at the Al-Shaab.
Alaa Abdul-Zahra gave Al-Shurta the lead from the spot on 30 minutes before a goalkeeping mistake allowed in Alassane Diallo a minute later to give the Greens a two-nil lead.
Al-Shurta without injured top scorer Mohanad Ali, started with Mahdi Kamil who captained the Police Club in the absence of Walid Salim.
The Police Club played to the tempo of the drumming Qithara faithful for the Monday afternoon game against the minnows Al-Hussein and as expected dominated proceedings but without displaying any urgency in carving out an opening in the early moments.
Al-Hussein’s young coach Adil Icher, in his second spell at the club based in Al-Sadr City in the Iraqi capital, knew his side would see little possession and set up his side with five at the back leaving striker Ali Karim upfront on his own to contain the league’s top scorers.
It was goalless until just before the half-hour mark when Alaa Mahawi was fouled in the box by defender Mohammed Baqir. Referee Mohanad Qasim straight away pointed to the spot and Alaa Abdul-Zahra stepped up to net the opener with a coolly taken spot-kick.
A minute later a horrendous error from the Al-Hussein goalkeeper Wisam Mohammed who failed to clear a long ball, allowed in Alassane Diallo. He went past the keeper and slotted to net Al-Shurta’s second.
The victory sees from Nebojša Jovović’s men go second on goal difference with 21 points from nine matches, a point behind Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya who are top after their 1-0 victory over Amana Baghdad this afternoon. Al-Zawraa who play tomorrow could return to the top of the table if they manage a victory over Al-Naft.
Al-Shurta 2-0 Al-Hussein
Alaa Abdul-Zahra 30′ pen, Alassane Diallo 32′
Al-Shurta: 20 Mohammed Hamed; 2 Karrar Mohammed, 24 Faisal Jassim, 22 Hussam Kadhim, 17 Alaa Mahawi, 25 Saad Abdul-Amir (12 Ammar Abdul-Hussein 72’), 19 Amjad Atwan, 6 Marouf Yousef (5 Hussein Abdul-Wahid Waham 82’), 9 Mahdi Kamil [c] (26 Hassan Abdul-Karim 89’), 33 Alassane Diallo, 10 Alaa Abdul-Zahra (7 Mohammed Jabar Shukan 86’)
COACH: Nebojša Jovović (Montenegro)
Al-Hussein: 30 Wisam Mohammed; 6 Mohammed Al-Baqir, 15 Ali Omar, 14 Murshid Hussein, 2 Sarmad Salah [c], 3 Muhaiman Adnan, 8 Hussein Ali Salman (44 Asad Abdullah 88’), 16 Shihab Razzaq, 10 Amjad Raad (24 Hassan Ali 69’), 17 Jawhar Haitham (7 Hussein Ali Ismail 83’), 9 Ali Karim (29 Hamza Mohammed 76’).
COACH: Adil Icher
Referee: Mohanad Qasim
Cautions: Amjad Raad 65’, Sarmad Salah 72′, Amjad Atwan 90′ (+1).