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Al Jazira warm up for season with Ipic title.

Abu Dhabi: Hosts Al Jazira lost their last outing to Western Sydney Wanderers 2-1 but still went on to clinch the Ipic title on better goal-difference at the Division of Military Stadium on Sunday.

Goals from Iacopo La Rocca and Kwabena Appiah helped the Wanderers turn things around after Jucilei da Silva had put the hosts ahead. Apart from lifting the trophy, Al Jazira also finished richer by Dh200,000. The win will also serve as a timely tune-up for the domestic season, which is around the corner.

Soon after the first quarter, Al Jazira's new Argentine recruit Manuel Lanzini's measured through ball found Da Silva unmarked and the latter did not let the chance go by, firing the ball into the roof of the net.

Even before the celebrations could die down in the Al Jazira camp, the Wanderers hit back through La Rocca's header off a fine corner kick by Vitor Saba.

Thereafter, the visitors were all over the Al Jazira territory and Saba again put their defence in a spot of bother by floating in a fine cross for Labinot Haliti at the far post. The latter, however, failed to reach the ball.

Haliti had a chance himself a little later but his shot lacked power to beat the Al Jazira custodian.

The Wanderers were in total control of the proceeding even after the change of ends and broke through in the 60th minute.

Mark Bridge made a fine defence-splitting run from the left flank and found Appiah with a pinpoint cross into the 18-yard-box. Appiah was clinical in his effort and notched his first goal since scoring against Japan's Shimizu S-Pulse in last season's pre-season tour. The Wanderers then soaked up some sustained pressure exerted by Al Jazira towards the end to seal the win.

Al Jazira had won the opening match against Bahrain's East Riffa 4-1 and were tied on three points along with East Riffa, who defeated Sydney Wanderers in the second match of the tournament.

Sydney Wanderers were in the UAE on a 10-day training camp ahead of their Asian Champions League semi-final with FC Seoul.

Al Jazira's Da Silva, who was among the goals in his team's last match as well, emerged as the top scorer of the tournament with three goals. His first two goals came in the first match against East Riffa of Bahrain. Ante Covic of Sydney Wanderers was adjudged the best goalkeeper.

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Publication:Gulf News (United Arab Emirates)
Geographic Code:8AUST
Date:Sep 9, 2014
Words:419
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