Chaito shines as Ansar knock Zgharta for six
BEIRUT: Ansar twice came from behind before romping to a 6-2 win over Salam Zgharta Friday to close to within five points of leaders Nejmeh and Ahed in matchday 10 of the Lebanese premier League.
Summer signing Hasan Chaito bagged a hat-trick for the visitors, while Tunisian winger Houssam alLouwati set up three and scored another himself.
There was also a goal for league top scorer Elhadji Tall, who took his tally for the season to 10.
A six-goal shellacking, however, would have been the furthest thing from Ansar’s minds after their shambolic start in Zgharta.
The game was barely two minutes old when a switch of play to Edmond Chehadi on the left resulted in the opening goal on the sodden pitch.
Chehadi did remarkably well under the circumstances to control and then stand a delightful ball at the far post for Alex Botros to head home for Zgharta.
But the team’s elation lasted just three minutes.
Louati then danced his way past two defenders before squaring for Chaito to equalize from close range for Ansar.
The adverse conditions seemed to add to the spectacle, and goals continued to flow starting with Zgharta’s second.
Youssef Barakat threaded a piercing pass through to the rampaging Mamadou Niass, who lashed the ball across the face of the goal for Boutros to touch in his second at the back stick.
Zgharta’s advantage was again erased with frightening speed as Ansar literally went up the other end to level the affair.
The familiar face of Louati was at the forefront of the attack, the 26-year-old turning his marker inside out before lifting an inch-perfect cross for Nassar Nassar to score from a potshot.
The match then witnessed its first lull, with 16 minutes elapsing without a goal in the topsy-turvy first half of the game.
That was until Louati intervened, again, to guide his side to their first lead.
A quickly taken free kick from Louati fell invitingly to Chaito, who had an eternity inside the box to control turn and then fire past Mustafa Matar.
Zgharta’s tails dropped with the concession of a third, as the hosts folded badly in the dying embers of the first half.
Hamza Kheir ended up getting caught underneath the ball when attempting to clear his lines, sending Tall racing through to slot home his 10th goal of the campaign on the stroke of halftime.
There was yet time for Ansar to add a fifth goal, with Louati capping his dazzling display following another dreadful piece of defending from Kheir.
A hopeful punt forward trickled through the Zgharta back line, with Kheir muscled off the ball by Louati, who curled his strike into the bottom corner to give Ansar a staggering 5-2 lead at the break.
The second half was largely a nonevent, though Chaito did manage to seal his hat-trick with just five minutes remaining.
Adnan Haidar dinked over Zgharta’s weary defense for Chaito, who met the ball with a sweet firsttime strike to give Ansar a glimmer of hope in the title race.
Also Friday, Shabab al-Ghazieh recorded an impressive 3-1 victory at Shabab al-Sahel to move into sixth place.
Ivorian striker Jean Keke scored either side of Khalil Bader’s strike, with Abdulaziz N’Diaye pulling one back for the Sahel. – J.J.
Shabab al-Ghazieh celebrate following their 3-1 win over Shabab al-Sahel.