Al Ain claim Pro League Cup with penalty shoot-out victory against Shabab Al Ahli

Goalkeeper Khalid Eissa is spot-kick hero with decisive save after 2-2 deadlock

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Al Ain won a dramatic Pro League Cup final by defeating Shabab Al Ahli 5-4 in a penalty shoot-out after the sides were deadlocked at 2-2.

Khalid Eissa was their hero, saving Abdulaziz Haikal’s penalty for the Garden City Club’s triumph at the Mohamed bin Zayed stadium in Abu Dhabi.

Federico Cartabia drew first blood for Shabab Al Ahli on 28 minutes and the Argentine midfielder scored his second of the match nine minutes from time to force penalties after Al Ain had taken the lead through Kodjo Laba and Caio Canedo in the second half.

It could have been over for Al Ain but for an excellent save from Eissa three minutes from time when he parried Ahmad Noorollah's rocket over the crossbar.

Al Ain then had an opportunity to put the game to bed but Soufiane Rahimi failed to get past Shabab Al Ahli goalkeeper Majed Naser with a minute left.

Shabab Al Ahli took the lead when Bandar Al Ahbabi misjudged a long ball, allowing Harib Abdulla to work his way down the left flank.

The Emirati winger was left with plenty of space to send in a cross for the unmarked Cartabia to score with a deflection off Al Ain’s Brazilian defender Rafael.

Shabab Al Ahli had a golden opportunity to double the lead early in the second half. Cartabia set-up Thomas Olsen inside the area off a counter-attack and the Norwegian forward found Noorollah on his left, but the Iranian midfielder sent it way over the crossbar.

Al Ain had to improve in the second half and they did from a counter-attack, with their leading scorer Laba darting across to connect a header from an Al Ahbabi high ball for a 53rd minute equaliser.

That goal really fired up Al Ain. They increased the tempo in attack with Canedo’s effort from just outside the area grazing over the bar and a header from Rahimi deflecting off a defender before landing safely into the arms of Naser.

Minutes later, Laba had a chance to give his side the lead when Erik Jorgens slipped him a pass with only Naser to beat, but the Al Ain forward lost control of for Naser to snatch it from his feet.

Al Ain made a double substation on 72 minutes, bringing in Saeed Juma in place of Al Ahbabi and Ahmed Barman coming in for Walid Abbas.

That worked for Al Ain as Canedo, unmarked at the far post, headed a neat cross from Jorgens to take a 2-1 lead in the 75th minute.

However, Cartabia’s free kick gave Shabab Al Ahli a lifeline to go into the penalty shoot-out.

Shabab Al Ahli made four changes to their line-up after they went down to Al Ain 1-0 in the Adnoc Pro League four days ago.

The forward line was strengthened by the return of Olsen and Cartabia, and the Emirati internationals Omar Abdulrahman and Walid Abbas. Al Ain brought back Rafael, Jorgens, Al Ahbabi and Yahia Nader from that game.

Updated: May 04, 2022, 6:57 PM