Al Ain thrash Al Jazira to open up seven-point lead at top of Pro League

Togolese forward Kodjo Laba fires hat-trick in emphatic 5-1 win

Al Ain players celebrate after scoring against Al Jazira in their 5-1 win in the Adnoc Pro League at Al Nahyan Stadium on Saturday, November 20, 2021. Photo: PLC
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Al Ain were ruthless as they inflicted a heavy defeat on Abu Dhabi rivals Al Jazira to maintain their grip at the top of the Adnoc Pro League.

The Garden City club opened up a seven-point lead over second-placed Al Wahda having played a game more.

The match was played at Al Wahda's Al Nahyan Stadium due to maintenance work being carried out at Jazira's home ground, but it had little bearing on the league leaders.

Jazira drew first blood when their Serbian defender Milos Kosanovic put them ahead with a powerful header on 12 minutes, but what followed thereafter was mayhem from the home side.

Al Ain replied with goals from Cristiano Guanca, Kodjo Laba and Soufianne Rahimi to go into the break with a 3-1 lead.

Jazira suffered a massive blow when Mohammed Al Attas was sent off for a second bookable offence eight minutes into the second half as the visitors capitalising on the numerical advantage added two more to their tally courtesy of Laba.

“Last season we were not at a good level but this season we are, with the players gelling together and Al Ain as a big team in this league,” said Laba, who took his season's goals tally to 12.

“I want to do my best for the team as always. I’m glad to keep scoring and assist my teammates to score as well. It doesn’t matter who scores as long as the team keeps winning.

“I have a special word of thanks for our fans. They always come in large numbers to stand behind us at every game. They keep pushing us from the stands and certainly a big strength for us.”

Sharjah returned from Khor Fakkan with a 3-1 win to join Al Nasr, Shabab Al Ahli and Jazira on 16 points each, though they are sixth on goal difference.

Marcus Meloni put the visitors in front on 16 minutes and Ben Malango doubled the lead six minutes later. Paulo Melo closed the gap approaching the hour before Otabek Shukurov sealed the game nine minutes from time.

First-half goals from Ahmed Abunamous and Nicolas Gimenez gave Baniyas a 2-0 win over Al Orooba while Emirates and Kalba played out a 1-1 draw.

Updated: November 21, 2021, 7:24 AM