Al Ain 1
Al Ahli 0
Red card Salmeen Khamis (Al Ahli)
Man of the match Omar Abdulrahman (Al Ain)
AL AIN // Al Ain coach Zlatko Dalic said was “satisfied” after beating Al Ahli on Thursday as it kept the Garden City Club on course for a 12th league title.
The only goal, from Asamoah Gyan, was enough for them to win 1-0 over Ahli, who finished with 10 men on Thursday night at the Hazza bin Zayed stadium.
Salmeen Khamis, the Ahli defender who scored the winner in their 1-0 triumph over Al Ain in the Super Cup last week, received his marching orders six minutes left in the first half.
He was booked for an altercation with Al Ain keeper Khalid Essa in the 36th minute and handed a second three minutes later for charging at the keeper when he was on the ground.
Gyan pounced on a curling pass from Omar Abdulrahman to beat Ahli goalkeeper Ahmed Mahmoud and give Al Ain the lead in first-half added time.
“It is never easy against teams like Ahli, even with 10 players, but the important thing is that we achieved the result we wanted,” Dalic said.
“We had a good first half and created a few good chances in the second, but not very lucky. We still have five matches left, but this result puts us in a good position in the league table. I won’t say we had an excellent game, but we played well to win full points.”
Al Ain had some golden scoring opportunities in the second half. Gyan’s fierce shot from inside the six-yard line off a pass from Jires Kembo Ekoko sailed over the crossbar, and the latter’s volley ricocheted off the bar a few minutes later.
Mahmoud made a spectacular save when he punched away a stinging shot from Miroslav Stoch, and at the other end Essa pushed out a close-range header from Habib Fardan.
Cosmin Olaroiu, the Ahli coach, kept Everton Ribiero, Oussama Assaidi and Majed Naser on the bench.
“They had a few knocks in the last game and were not 100 per cent to start, but we played a pretty good game,” he said.
“The red card (to Khamis) was a big blow to us and shortly after that Al Ain managed to score to put us under pressure. I think we still did well to create a few good scoring chances.”
Elsewhere, third-place Al Shabab had two men sent off, three goals disallowed and their coach sent to the stands as they suffered a 3-1 defeat at home to Emirates.
Adverse weather conditions left Thursday’s match between Al Dhafra and Al Nasr postponed until Friday.
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