Dubai: Saudi striker Naser Al Shamrani scored a brace as Al Ain snatch a vital full three points with victory over Al Shabab in a Round 19 match of the Arabian Gulf League (AGL) at Dubai’s Maktoum Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Stadium on Wednesday.
Al Shabab goalkeeper Salem Abdulla failed to deal with a cross from the right wing Rashed Essa’s subsequent attempt to clear the ball saw him catch Al Ain’s Mohamed Abdulrahman in the midriff, leading the referee to whistle for a penalty kick with just nine minutes gone.
January signing Shamrani confidently stepped up and sent Abdulla the wrong way from the spot to open his account with Al Ain in his sixth league outing.
The hosts looked to equalised and applied persistent pressure on Al Ain, and with five minutes remaining in the first half, they got what they were looking for when defensive midfielder Ahmed Barman brought down Tomas De Vicente just outside the box.
From the resulting free-kick, Luvannor Henrique sent a cross to the far post that was met by a flying header from defender Mohammed Marzooq that nestled into Khalid Eisa’s net to bring ‘The Hawks’ level.
The visitors retreated and relied on quick counter-attacks to hurt their opponents and in the ninth minute of the second half, Brazilian winger Caio Lucas got goalside of Al Shabab defender Adel Sebil, forcing the latter to apprehend from behind.
The referee pointed to the spot, signalling a second penalty kick for Al Ain and once more Al Shamrani was on target for his second of the night and the season.
Al Ain Coach Zoran Mamic took off Caio in the 67th minute and introduced Ibrahim Diaky in the 67th minute. The substitute needed just nine minutes to put his name on the scoresheet after cutting inside from the left wing and firing a thunderbolt effort that Al Shabab keeper could not keep out.
Diaky’s goal put Al Ain beyond their hosts’ reach and they went on to finish the game with an important 3-1 away victory. Al Ain reached the 40-point mark with the win, staying within one point behind second placed Al Ahli and ten adrift of leaders Al Jazira. A third consecutive defeat for Al Shabab leaves them eighth with 24 points.
Bani Yas upset Dhafra
Bani Yas stunned Al Dhafra 1-0 courtesy of an early Harry Novillo goal in a match held at the Hamdan Bin Zayed Stadium.
Bani Yas were quick off the mark and inside the first 90 seconds, pacey winger Novillo dribbled past Al Dhafra defender Omar Ali and into the penalty box before Abdullah Al Sayari tripped him, conceding an early penalty kick. Novillo himself converted from the spot to give Bani Yas an early lead.
From then on, it was one-way traffic as Al Dhafra dominated and attempted shot after shot, but a combination of wasteful finishing and heroic goalkeeping throughout the first half made sure Bani Yas go into the break with a valuable advantage.
In the second half, Bani Yas tried to snatch a second goal in the first few minutes but Novillo and Suhail Al Noobi failed to find the back of the net.
In turn, the hosts continued to control much of the play but without creating a lot of chances, they came closest when Hamad Al Ahbabi got on the end of a cross and attempted a right-footed finish from six yards out but sent the ball flying high.