Al Ahli up into second in Pro League table after 2-0 win over Al Shaab

Ahmed Khalil and Ismail Al Hammadi scored either side of the half-time interval to set up a pulsating top-of-the-table clash against league leaders Al Ain next week.

Al Ahli congratulate Ahmed Khalil, left, after he opened the scoring against Al Shaab. Satish Kumar / The National
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DUBAI // Quique Sanchez Flores has set his sights on stopping Al Ain next Saturday when the two sides in the table clash in one of the most anticipated return games of the season.

Al Ahli moved into second in the points table last night after a 2-0 win over Al Shaab, with Ahmed Khalil and Ismail Al Hammadi scoring either side of the half-time interval.

The No 1 and No 2 sides will meet in the next round at Ahli's Rashid Stadium and Sanchez Flores is looking forward to the game.

The two met in the first week of the Pro League and Grafite scored three goals as Ahli stunned the defending champions 6-3 in that match.

"It might not be possible to get that kind of a result again, though it is the best way to beat Al Ain," Sanchez Flores said.

"That was the first game of the season and a lot has changed since. The situation is very different now and we are not thinking about that first game.

"Our focus will be on preparing as best we can over the coming six days because we know we are playing one of the best teams in the country."

Missing a number of players through injury and suspension, Shaab were forced to make a change as early as the fifth minute when Omar Al Shehhi was stretchered off after twisting his ankle.

Later, Ali Rabea suffered an injury as well and was replaced at the start of the second half.

With his team struggling among the bottom three in the table, Marius Sumudica must have been hoping for a more auspicious start.

But seven minutes after the first replacement, the Romanian had more woe coming his way when Kazim Ali tripped Khalil inside the penalty area and the referee pointed to the spot.

The UAE international comfortably put the ball into the back of the net.

Ahli were missing some of their stalwarts as well, including the suspended Grafite. But they still had enough class on the pitch with as many as four current UAE internationals and three others who have worn the national team jersey in recent times.

The hosts got their second two minutes after the break when Al Hammadi made a boisterous run into the box and sliced through the defence with a scorching low shot that deflected in off the far post.

"My problem is I lost too many players," Sumudica said. "I lost Ali Rabea and Omar in the first few minutes and that made it difficult for us. In a team like Shaab, if you lose two or three players, it is a problem. It makes a big difference for us."

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