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Al Jazira loss hands Al Ain AGL title
April 19, 2015
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ABU DHABI: Bani Yas ended Al Jazira’s hopes of winning the 2014-15 Arabian Gulf League by dishing out a 4-2 thrashing in Round 23, and consequently confirming Al Ain as the champions. The defeat leaves Al Jazira ten points adrift of top spot with only three matches remaining, whilst Bani Yas move onto 29 points in eighth place.

Al Jazira began the game safe in the knowledge that defeat would mathematically confirm first place for rivals Al Ain, but Bani Yas were not ready to roll over and help their opponents keep their title dreams alive, as the visitors to the Mohammed Bin Zayed Stadium stunned with two early goals in quick succession.

Spaniard Joan Verdu was the one to break the deadlock after just 12 minutes, netting his 10th league goal of the season with a mazy run and left-footed finish from just inside the area, and by the 16th minute the Sky Blues were 2-0 up through Mohamed Jaber, who sent a looping header into the back of Ali Khaseif’s net.

Into the second half it was Bani Yas who further extended their lead, as opposed to the hosts fighting for a comeback, and Bandar Al Ahbabi was the man to net the visitors’ third goal to make it a resounding 3-0 in the 71st minute.

Eight minutes later Al Jazira finally managed to pull back a consolation through the league’s top scorer Mirko Vucinic, who netted for the 24th time this season to make it 3-1, but Bani Yas’ comprehensive smash and grab was rounded off with a 90th minute goal from substitute Mohamed Naser, who finished in a composed manner to complete a stunning victory.

There was still time for Jonathan Pitroipa to net another consolation for the hosts, but the 4-2 scoreline dashed Al Jazira’s hopes.

Al Wasl held

In another match, Al Wasl fought back from 2-0 down to claim a share of the points in a dramatic 2-2 draw at home to Emirates.

Luiz Henrique and Jamal Ibrahim had given Emirates a surprise two-goal lead at the Zabeel Stadium, but Al Wasl staged a late comeback through Fabio de Lima, who was on hand with his 12th and 13th league goals of the season to give The Cheetahs 35 points in fifth place, whilst Emirates sit 11th on 24 and officially confirm their survival in the top flight.

In the 24th minute, Emirates goalkeeper Ahmed Al Shaji got the faintest of fingertips to turn a goal-bound De Lima header onto the post and behind for a corner, and moments later Ali Salmeen tried his luck from distance as Al Wasl asserted their attacking authority on the game.

Just after the half-hour mark Emirates squandered a decent chance of their own as Jamal Ibrahim’s strong shot sailed just over the crossbar, and in the 43rd minute the visitors had another excellent opportunity as Mohamed Malalla’s volleyed back-heel from a tight angle at a corner kick clattered the crossbar.

Indeed it was Emirates who were quickest out of the blocks at the start of the second half, as a long ball caught Al Wasl’s back line out and Luiz Henrique controlled before firing a rasping strike beyond Yousif Abdulla to make it 1-0 in the 48th minute.

By the 64th minute Emirates had extended their lead to 2-0 as Henrique this time turned provider, streaming down the right and providing a perfectly weighted ball in the area for Jamal Ibrahim to run onto and stroke a composed finish into the bottom right-hand corner of the net.

But three minutes later Al Wasl had given themselves a lifeline as Hugo Viana’s delivery fell to Ederson, whose shot was parried by Ahmed Al Shaju but only as far as  De Lima, who adjusted his footwork to tap in comfortably from close range and make it 2-1.

It took another terrific save from Shaji to deny Al Wasl parity moments later, and with Emirates still leading in the final five minutes Al Wasl were just fractions away from a leveller as  De Lima’s flick skimmed the far post. But it was in the 89th minute that  De Lima made it a double with another scrappy tap-in from Caio Canedo’s cushioned header, equalising at 2-2 in a dramatic end to the encounter.

The impetus firmly with the hosts, Al Wasl streamed forward in search of an injury-time winner and only a crucial goal-line clearance kept them at bay from snatching all three points.

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