Adnoc Pro League wrap: Alcacer-inspired Sharjah back on top, Bataglia on fire for Baniyas

A look back at the seventh round from the UAE top flight as the President's Cup holders reclaim top spot

Rafael Bataglia fired a hat-trick for Baniyas in a 4-1 win over Dibba in the Adnoc Pro League on Saturday, October 22, 2022. Photo: PLC
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The Adnoc Pro League produced a shock win for Ajman against Al Jazira, while newly-crowned President's Cup champions Sharjah edged out promoted Al Bataeh to regain top spot in the table from Al Wasl, who were held to a draw by Kalba. Here are the highlights from Round 7.

Story of the Round

Fresh from ending their 19-year wait for a ninth President's Cup title, Sharjah returned to league duty with a narrow 1-0 away victory over Al Bataeh on Tuesday. Combined with Al Wasl's 2-2 draw with Kalba on Sunday, it was enough to send Sharjah back to the top of the table by one point ahead of Wasl.

Spanish forward Paco Alcacer, who scored the winner against Al Wahda in the President’s Cup final with a stunning long-range free-kick, was the difference-maker once again, breaking the deadlock 12 minutes into the second half.

Matchweek 7 kicked off on Saturday with victories for champions Al Ain over Al Nasr, Shabab Al Ahli at Khor Fakkan, and Baniyas away to Dibba.

After Andriy Yarmolenko had put Al Ain ahead in the fifth minute and Ryan Mendes struck the equaliser for Al Nasr three minutes into the second half, Kodjo Laba scored twice late in the second half as the champions claimed a 3-1 win to sit third in the table.

The double from Laba, last season's top-scorer, moved the Togolese striker on to nine goals for the campaign, level at the top of the charts with Al Jazira's Ali Mabkhout.

Mohammed Juma Eid scored a second-half winner for Shabab Al Ahli to return with full points from Khor Fakkan as the Dubai club, in fifth, stayed level on points with Al Ain and Al Wahda, while Rafael Bataglia fired a hat-trick in Baniyas’ 4-1 win at Dibba for their second victory of the season.

The shock results came on Sunday when Ajman defeated Al Jazira 1-0 at the Mohamed bin Zayed Stadium and Wasl were held to a draw by Kalba at the Zabeel Stadium.

Prestige Mboungou scored the only goal of the game in the 77th minute after collecting the ball, rounding Jazira defender Salim Rashid, and sending it past goalkeeper Abdulrahman Al Ameri for Ajman’s third win.

Kalba, meanwhile, fought back from two goals down to share a valuable away point with Wasl.

Fabio de Lima opened the scoring for Wasl in the fifth minute and Ali Saleh doubled their advantage 10 minutes into the second half. Alexandru Cicaldau then pulled one back for Kalba before Filip Kiss put the visitors on level in the 77th minute.

Player of the Round: Rafael Bataglia (Baniyas)

The Brazilian striker scored a hat-trick for struggling Baniyas to clinch their second win of the season. Bataglia opened the scoring with a powerful header two minutes into the second half, and doubled his tally when a poor clearance from the Dibba defence fell in his path, before completing the hat-trick with a perfect run to meet Ahmed Abunamous’ cross four minutes from time.

Manager of the Round: Cosmin Olaroiu (Sharjah)

Having led his side to the President’s Cup title win over Wahda last Friday, Sharjah’s Romanian manager may have had a tough time keeping his players focused on their return to league action. Instead, Sharjah did enough to beat Al Bataeh and reclaim top spot.

Goal of the Round: Paco Alcacer (Sharjah)

The former Barcelona and Borussia Dortmund forward stalked behind Al Bataeh's Brazilian defender Kayque Soares Campos to head home Khalid Bawazir’s cross from the right flank to score the winner in the second half.

Updated: October 26, 2022, 6:12 AM