Al Ain a step closer to Adnoc Pro League title after five-goal thriller against Al Wasl

Togolese striker Kodjo Laba scores twice as leaders move seven points clear of Al Wahda

Kodjo Laba, centre, scored twice in Al Ain’s 3-2 win over Al Wasl in the Adnoc Pro League at the Hazza bin Zayed stadium on Tuesday, April 5, 2022. - PLC
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Al Ain moved a step closer to securing the Adnoc Pro League title on Tuesday evening after beating Al Wasl 3-2 in a thrilling encounter at the Hazza bin Zayed stadium.

Al Wasl twice pulled level, first equalising through a Gilberto Oliveira penalty shortly before half-time after Kodjo Laba had given Al Ain the lead in the 29th minute, and again when Ali Saleh struck eight minutes from time to cancel out Caio Canedo's 61st-minute striker.

However, Laba grabbed his second at the death to earn all three points for Al Ain as the Garden City club moved seven points clear of second-placed Al Wahda with six games remaining.

“It was a crucial result that keeps us in a good position at this stage of the league,” Al Ain defender Al Ahbabi said. “We have enjoyed staying in front from the very outset but we know the league is far from over with six games to go. We have some tough games coming up but we are hopeful we can maintain our lead until the end.

“We had to work very hard to win the three points over tonight. It was a great win after Wasl came twice from behind to level the scores.”

Laba opened the scoring when he captialised on a poor clearance by Wasl goalkeeper Mohamed Ali, the ball falling into his path for a simple finish.

Oliveira then levelled from the spot after Jeferson Douglas’ effort hit Al Ain defender Bandar Al Ahbabi’s elbow.

Al Ain regained the lead just past the hour when Canedo knocked in Soufiane Rahimi’s cross from close range, but Wasl levelled the scores again through Saleh.

When it looked like the game was heading for a draw, Laba was on target with a header from a Cristian Guanca cross to seal Al Ain’s victory two minutes from time. It was the 20th goal of the league campaign for the Togolese striker, who looks on course to win this season's top scorer award.

Elsewhere, Khor Fakkan produced a strong second half to outclass Baniyas 4-2 at the Saqr bin Mohammed Al Qasimi stadium.

Aylton Filipe put the hosts ahead in the sixth minute but it was Baniyas who went into the break leading 2-1 through goals from Gaston Suarez and Nicolas Gimenez.

Raphael Guimaraes levelled 10 minutes into the second half, but Filipe regained the lead with his second goal of the match and Abdalla Elrefaey struck 10 minutes from time to seal Khor Fakkan’s sixth league victory.

Updated: April 06, 2022, 8:20 AM