ABU DHABI // Al Ain gumption overcame Al Wasl guile in a bizarre and fascinating Etisalat Cup semi-final last night at Al Nahyan Stadium in the capital.
After Francisco Yeste, Wasl's Spanish forward, had been responsible for two goals, including an uncontested 55-metre strike from midfield as his opponents were celebrating a goal, Al Ain, the 2009 Etisalat Cup winners, scored twice in the final 25 minutes to snatch a 3-2 victory.
Elias Ribeiro, Al Ain's Brazilian forward, scored the game-winner on a penalty after the Wasl defender Mohammed Abdullah was penalised for holding Ismail Ahmed in the box.
Al Ain fans greeted the result with noisy glee.
It was perhaps the biggest victory of the season for the traditional giants, who find themselves in the relegation zone in the Pro League but now have a chance to win a domestic trophy.
Yeste, 31, who spent a decade with Athletic Bilbao, the Primera Liga side from the Basque country, earned Wasl the opening goal in the 24th minute when he cleverly anticipated an Al Ain challenge in the box.
A long ball from the back had taken a high bounce, and Yeste was waiting for it to come down when Al Ain's Fares Juma bundled him over.
Essa Ali scored from the penalty spot.
Al Ain evened the scores for the first time in the 50th minute when Ahmed converted a header from a free kick by Elias.
Yeste's shock goal as Al Ain were celebrating put Wasl up 2-1, but Ibrahim Keita evened the scores for a second time from another free kick driven into the box.
That led to Elias's winning penalty, and a rare night of happiness for Al Ain.
They will now face Dubai's Al Shabab in the final, though the date and location are yet to be confirmed.