Al Ain’s Douglas takes home the match ball after stunning hat-trick against Al Jazira

The UAE champions, defeated three times in their past four matches, ground out a much-needed 3-1 victory against Al Jazira at the Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium on Sunday night, a win courtesy of a treble from Douglas.

Al JAZIRA 1

Mabkhout 37’

Al AIN 3

Douglas (pen) 25’, 59’, 78’

STORY OF MATCH

ABU DHABI // Seeking a response to their recent fallibility, Al Ain provided the answers to keep alive their Arabian Gulf League title defence.

The UAE champions, defeated three times in their past four matches, ground out a much-needed 3-1 victory against Al Jazira at the Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium on Sunday night, a win courtesy of a treble from Douglas.

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The Brazilian forward has endured a torrid time since his January transfer from Japan’s Tokushima Vortis, yet his record now reads a highly respectable eight goals in nine appearances. He is beginning to bloom for the Garden City club.

Al Ain will hope the seeds of recovery have been planted on the whole, given the travails of the past few weeks, when they relinquished their position at the summit to Al Ahli and then began their Asian Champions League campaign with successive defeats.

However, with six rounds remaining in the race for the top-flight trophy, a solitary point separates them from leaders Ahli once more.

Douglas’ contribution ensured that. It included a first-half penalty, awarded when Yasser Matar, the former Jazira midfielder, was upended by Mohammed Jamal, but was quickly cancelled out by Ali Mabkhout’s fine goal.

Douglas stamped his mark on the match after the break, though, first restoring Al Ain’s advantage just before the hour with a sumptuous strike from the edge of the penalty area. The match-ball was soon sealed when his predatory finish from Mohammed Abdulrahman’s low cross clinched the points, too.

Douglas was promptly withdrawn, his name chanted loud and proud by the Al Ain fans, much in the hope that this is a sign of what is to come from their main striker. After all, he was recruited in January to help the club keep the league crown in the Garden City. This may just prove a significant step towards doing that.

MAN OF THE MATCH

Douglas - Much maligned since his January switch to the UAE, the Brazilian did not shirk his duties, scoring a hat-trick and generally leading the line well throughout. His second was the pick of the bunch, an unstoppable curling effort past Ali Khaseif in the Jazira goal.

WHAT THE MANAGERS SAID

Henk ten Cate, the Jazira coach: "I think we were a little unlucky today. First of all, I had to make a team, which was not so easy with so many players out. There were four crucial moments that went against us and decided the game. I cannot blame my team for anything, the spirit and fight was there. It was a deserved win for Al Ain, they were the better team. But I'm sure if we play Al Ain with a complete team, we would do much better."

Hesham Suroor, the Al Ain assistant coach: "First, congratulations for our team, it was a big performance. At half time we said 'this is it, we need the win, especially because there's a big race between us and Al Ahli, we can't go home with one point'. So we went more attacking, stretched the game, which worked. Thankfully we go home with the three points and confidence restored, not just for the team but Douglas as well. It's a great three points, a great win and great to get back the belief."

NATIONAL VERDICT

This was the perfect response from Al Ain, who showed enough grit and guile to get back to winning ways and keep the pressure on Ahli at the top of the table. Jazira competed well, but was simply outdone by the better team.