AUB made the trip to the suburbs of Beirut on Thursday, Nov. 16 for their fourth league game of the season against LAU Beirut. The game was held at Ahed Stadium, home of first division team El Ahed Football Club, where LAU Beirut play their home games.
Buoyed by last week’s 3-2 victory over AUST, AUB were hoping to capitalize on that performance and snatch a valuable three points from what is always a hotly contested match against eternal rivals LAU. The game marked the return from injury of captain Wael Daou, who took his place alongside Khaled Alameh in the center of defense. Coach Rabih Idriss made only one other change to last week’s line-up, Bassam Adada coming in for Rani Makarem to spearhead AUB’s attack in this vital derby match.
The game kicked off at 8:45 pm, and it was a bright and energetic start for the visitors. AUB’s midfield trio Elie Dib, Jad Chaanine, and Rami Nasr asserted their control over the game’s tempo as LAU Beirut struggled to get hold of the ball. However, that drastically changed as the game progressed with LAU switching to a 3-5-2 formation, folding a striker and a central defender into midfield. The tactical gamble paid dividends as AUB were starved of the ball and harassed in midfield as LAU Beirut began to dominate possession.
The game was void of any clear cut chances up until a counter attack by LAU brought the match to life. The out-of-form Ghassan Ibrahim was dispossessed on the left flank and a long ball was launched across the pitch for with LAU striker Hussein Koeik to latch onto, beating Wael Daou for pace and finishing to the left of goalkeeper Mohammad Khatib. The goal prompted Coach Rabih to take off Jad Chaanine and introduce Rami Musallam to give his side more options in attack. LAU Beirut held on to their well-deserved lead until the referee signaled half-time sending both teams to the dressing rooms.
The game soon resumed and a much improved AUB side began to fight back. Wael Daou, who was obviously not yet match-fit, was taken off shortly after the restart with Samir Ghandour taking his place in defense. AUB also switched to a 3-5-2 formation, but nothing seemed to work for the visitors as they were running out of options.
AUB won a corner midway through the second half that was cleared into the path of Khaled Alameh, who whipped in a cross that found Chris Tamari at the far post. Tamari’s header bounced back off the bar and LAU’s right back sent another long ball that found his teammate in loads of space on the right flank, with the advanced Rayan Chehayeb nowhere to be found. The opposition player carried the ball from midfield to AUB’s penalty area with amazing pace and finished inside Khatib’s near post for LAU’s second of the game.
A stunned AUB side never really recovered after conceding the second goal. A series of changes followed soon after as Jason Ghossoub, Rani Makarem, and Anthony Chahine were all introduced but none of them could help change what was a subpar performance from AUB. This is the second time in as many games that AUB have failed to win away from home. And if this away form carries on, AUB will be find it nearly impossible to clinch any silverware come next April.