Stoch stars as Al Ain bounce back

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Stoch stars as Al Ain bounce back

Al Ain had a good game at home with a 3-1 win over Al Dhafra.

By James Jose (senior Reporter)

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Published: Sun 19 Oct 2014, 1:42 PM

Last updated: Fri 3 Apr 2015, 10:45 PM

Miroslav Stoch starred in Al Ain’s win.

Miroslav Stoch starred in Al Ain’s win.

Al Ain: Miroslav Stoch has been in fantastic form at the moment. The Slovakian international continued from where he left off as Al Ain recovered from a run of two defeats across competitions to swamp Al Dhafra in the Arabian Gulf League at the Hazza bin Zayed Stadium on Friday night.

The midfielder, who grabbed headlines around the world with a sensational match winner against defending champions Spain in a Uefa Euro 2016 qualifier on October 9, scored off a set piece for the opening goal. And with Jires Kembo-Ekoko and Mohanad Salem adding the other two, Al Ain had a good night at home with a 3-1 win over Al Dhafra. Saif Mohammed pulled one back for Al Dhafrah.

The victory was a much needed one as ‘The Boss’ were coming into the game on the back of twin defeats against Al Jazira and Ittihad Kalba. Al Ain were edged out by Al Jazira 4-3 in a Capital derby in the Arabian Gulf League. And then a depleted side, owing to the international break, had gone down to a solitary goal to Ittihad Kalba in the Arabian Gulf Cup.

But Al Ain’s injury woes grew after their ace marksman Asamoah Gyan was stretchered off in what appeared to be a knee injury. Gyan, who returned to the UAE after Ghana’s African Cup of Nations qualifier, had started on the bench and came on for Ekoko on 61 minutes. But he injured his left knee after a collision with Al Dhafrah goalkeeper Abdullah Sultan.

The Garden City club were already without their star playmaker Omar Abdulrahman, who is also nursing a knee injury. It was Al Ain’s third game without Omar and the young gun had also missed UAE’s international friendlies against Australia and Uzbekistan.

Al Ain’s third win from four games leapfrogged them to fourth, but momentarily though, with sixth-placed defending champions Al Ahli yet to play Al Jazira. Al Ain have two games less because of their AFC Champions League commitments.

Meanwhile, this was Al Dhafra’s first defeat after five consecutive draws.

Al Dhafra could have actually taken the lead on the half hour through Humam Tareq. Tareq, who is on loan from Al Ahli, fired in a long ranger but Al Ain goalkeeper Khalid Eisa, who had a game to forget against Uzbekistan, averted it to safety.

Seven minutes later, it was Al Ain though who drew first blood with Stoch caressing the net with a brilliant freekick.

Jires Kembo-Ekoko then doubled the lead after the break, on 52 minutes. Al Ain then rounded it off with the third, five minutes later through Mohanad Salem, who headed home from a corner.

Saif Mohammed scored a consolation goal for Al Dhafrah on 65 minutes.

Al Ain next host Emirates at the Hazza bin Zayed on Wednesday.

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