Al Dhafra hold Al Ain

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Al Dhafra hold Al Ain

Kembo-Ekoko nets equaliser for league leaders after Diop’s opening goal

By James Jose (senior Reporter)

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Published: Sat 14 Mar 2015, 3:05 PM

Last updated: Thu 25 Jun 2015, 10:57 PM

Makhete Diop (yellow) proved his credentials yet again by giving Al Dhafra the lead. — KT file

Makhete Diop (yellow) proved his credentials yet again by giving Al Dhafra the lead. — KT file

Abu Dhabi: Al Dhafra cut into Al Ain’s lead at the top by holding the League leaders to a 1-1 draw in the Arabian Gulf League at the Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan Stadium in Al Dhafra on Friday night.

Makhete Diop proved his credentials yet again by giving Al Dhafra the lead on 10 minutes with a stunner. But Al Ain rallied well with Jires Kembo-Ekoko firing the equaliser on the hour. Al Ain had won the home leg 3-1 back in October last year.

Title challengers Al Jazira will be pleased with the result as it meant Al Ain’s lead at the top of table was slashed to four points. The Boss have 43 points, while Al Jazira are on 39 points, after blanking defending champions Al Ahli late on Thursday night. Meanwhile, Al Dhafrah are ninth with 22 points.

Al Dhafra, who recently shocked Al Jazira in the latter’s backyard, looked like doing the same to Al Ain as they took the lead on 10 minutes through a brilliant effort from Diop. The Senegalese striker fired a screamer form the halfway line which went over Al Ain goalkeeper Khalid Eisa.

They could have added a cushion to that lead from a set piece but Eisa did well to punch away Humam Tariq’s curling freekick on 27 minutes. Two minutes later, Mohammed AK Khoory rifled a shot over the cross bar as Al Dhafrah kept at it.

Jires Kembo-Ekoko came close for Al Ain on 36 minutes but Al Dhafra goalkeeper Abdulla Sultan pulled off a neat save.

Diop had to be substituted three minutes after the restart following an injury and he was replaced by Hamad Yaaqoob.

That gave Al Ain a window back into the game and they capitalised on that opportunity as Ekoko found the equaliser on 60 minutes.

The Garden City club then went in search of a winner but the stoic Al Dhafra defence stood firm against the onslaught. Al Dhafra could have ended the night with a fifth win but were denied by the woodwork in stoppage time after Tariq’s scorcher hit the cross bar.

james@khaleejtimes.com



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