Al Ain rally to get past 10-man Al Wasl
Junior fires brace in Ittihad Kalba's win over Bani Yas
Following the international break, the Arabian Gulf League roared into action with record champions Al Ain rallying from a goal down to get the better of 10-man Al Wasl in Dubai on Friday night.
Playmaker Mohamed Abdulrahman and Togolese striker Kodjo Laba scored on 42 and 62, the latter from the penalty spot as The Boss beat The Cheetahs 2-1 at the Zabeel Stadium. The young Ali Saleh scored the lone goal for Al Wasl.
Elsewhere, in Al Shamkha, Chilean forward Antenor Junior fired a brace as Ittihad Kalba blanked Bani Yas at the latter’s fortress.
Al Ain’s third victory in six outings vaulted the 13-time champions to third on the table, behind table toppers Sharjah and second-placed Al Nasr. Al Wasl, meanwhile, are placed 10th with this being their fourth defeat.
Kalba notched their third win to be placed seventh, while Bani yas suffered their second defeat. The Sky Blues are fifth with 10 points.
Al Ain had the first clear chance on 15 minutes following a flurry of passes on the tip of the box but Mohamed Abdulrahman drilled it over the crossbar.
Al Wasl replied at the other end with a threatening foray and it took a good save from shot stopper Khalid Eisa to thwart the hosts. Minutes later, Joao Figueiredo blazed it over after Fabio de Lima had done the spadework by hoodwinking the Al Ain defence.
The pressure mounted by The Cheetahs saw them take the lead on 28 minutes through Ali Saleh. The 20-year-old, who had scored in stoppage time in the UAE’s win over Tajikistan in a friendly during the international break, tucked in the rebound after de Lima’s attempt was blocked by Eisa.
Al Ain managed to cancel out Ali Saleh’s goal with Mohamed Abdulrahman tapping it in following a precise pass from Wilson Eduardo, with three minutes left in the half.
Al Wasl were down to 10 men on 55 minutes after Salem Al Azizi was sent off following a second booking for a hand ball.
Al Ain were presented with the opportunity for the winner on a platter after Hueglo Neris handled the ball inside the box. And Kodjo Laba duly converted from the spot.
Al Wasl 1
(Goal: Ali Saleh 28)
Al Ain 2
(Goals: Mohamed Abdulrahman 41, Kodjo Laba 62)
Bani Yas 0
Ittihad Kalba 2
(Goals: Antenor Junior 27, 83)
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