Pedro's double nicks it for Al Dhafra
Al Dhafra's Joao Pedro celebrates after scoring against Ittihad Kalba on Friday night. - AGL
Dubai - Brazilian striker the star as The Western Knights edge past Kalba 3-2 in the Arabian Gulf Cup
Brazilian striker Joao Pedro fired a brace as Al Dhafra began their Arabian Gulf Cup campaign with a victory over Ittihad Kalba on Friday night.
The 26-year-old, who joined The Western Knights from Saudi club Al Fateh, scored the opener on 19 minutes and the match winner 11 minutes from the final whistle as the visitors won 3-2 at the Kalba Union Sports & Cultural Club Stadium.
Al Dhafra, who were playing their first match of the season, temporarily moved to third in Group A, while a first win proved elusive for The Tigers. Fabio Viviani's side were blanked 3-0 by Al Nasr in their tournament opener last weekend.
Al Dhafra showed intent right from the start and were two goals to the good within the first half hour. Kalba, the hosts were left to play catch up as they chased the game.
The Western Knights were up and running on five minutes through Diego Jardel, with the 29-year-old embarking on a solo down the left with the defence swarming him like bees. The playmaker then headed in and let slip a tricky grounder, which bounced off the left post and rolled into the net.
And the Kalba defence were caught napping on 19 minutes when goalkeeper Khaled Al Senani fired in a long ball. Pedro controlled it with a deft touch, lost his markers Henrique and Hamdan Naser Masoud before volleying it past shot stopper Yousif Abdulla.
It was sustained pressure from Al Dhafra and Kalba's first chance came on 25 minutes but Hamdan Naser Masoud was wayward with his header, off a corner.
Kalba found their feet back into the game with their captain and Hungarian skipper Balazs Dzsudzsak reducing the margin on 35 minutes following a one-two with Shabab Al Ahli loanee Walid Amber.
And they nullified the advantage with two minutes left in the half, with Peniel Mlapa coming up with a dipping header, which hit the inside of the right post and went in,
Kalba had Abdulla to thank as he thwarted attempts from substitute Suhail Al Mansoori and Khalid Bawazir.
A draw would've been a fair result but Pedro headed it home from a freekick on 79 minutes after he was brought down Dzsudzsak.