Al Jazira rally for draw and dent Al Ain’s hopes for top four
AL AIN // Al Jazira won a psychological battle over Al Ain before they meet in the Asian Champions League round of 16, over two legs on May 6 and 13.
Jazira rallied from two goals down to earn a 2-2 draw against Al Ain on Thursday in the penultimate round of the Arabian Gulf League last night at the Hazza bin Zayed Stadium.
Asamoah Gyan scored a first-half double to put the Garden City club ahead before Felipe Caicedo and substitute Ali Mabkhout struck late in the second half in an absorbing contest.
Abdulla Qasem worked down the right flank and cut across inside the box before slipping a pass for the unmarked Caicedo to score in front of an empty net and halve the lead.
Al Ain ended the game with 10 players after Fawzi Fayez was sent off by the referee Abdulla Al Zaabi for a second booking, 10 minutes from time.
The free kick from the Al Ain defender’s foul, which was spotted just outside the box and in front of the posts, was struck into the corner of the net by Mabkhout for the equaliser.
The result moved Jazira to joint-third in the league table on 42 points, two ahead of Al Ain in sixth, as six teams compete to round out the top four behind champions Al Ahli.
The draw also halted Al Ain’s four-match AGL winning streak under manager Zlatko Dalic, who replaced Quique Sanchez Flores in March.
The Croatian began his tenure with losses to Al Ittihad of Saudi Arabia in the Asian Champions League in his first game in charge and went down to Al Ahli in the domestic league.
It has been a remarkable turnaround for the Garden City club. Dalic’s record since the two defeats is two wins and two draws in the ACL, with four wins and a draw in the AGL.
After 15 cautious minutes to open the match, Jazira fired the first salvo, a free kick by Caicedo from just outside the box that crashed against the bar. However, it was Al Ain who took the lead when Gyan picked up a long ball from Yassine El Ghanassy, worked his way inside the box and scored off a deft shot for a 21st-minute lead.
The Ghanaian striker had an opportunity to double the lead five minutes later, but his glancing header off an El Ghanassy cross fell agonizingly wide of the far post.
The combination made it good before the break, with Gyan neatly putting away a lobbed pass from El Ghanassy for the home side to go into the break with a 2-0 lead.
Elsewhere, Emirates scored a 3-2 victory over Al Shabab on Thursday, a round after their Arabian Gulf League place was confirmed for another season.
Shabab stayed in second place, though, after Al Jazira drew 2-2 at Al Ain in the late kick-off.
Meanwhile, Al Nasr held on with 10 men for half an hour to beat Al Dhafra 2-1 at the Al Maktoum Stadium. It was an ideal result in their final home match of the season as they chase a top-four finish.
Tariq Ahmed was sent off in the 61st minute for a second yellow card in the space of nine minutes. It was his third red card of the season, the highest in the league.
His sending off meant Nasr clung to Habib Fardan’s early goal until Makhete Diop equalised with 11 minutes to go, turning in a loose ball in the box. In the 89th minute, a botched punch by Dhafra goalkeeper Mohammad Ghuloom redirected Mahmoud Khamis’s free kick into the net and secured three points for Nasr.
At the Emirates Stadium, the hosts led three times with a double from Rodrigo Silva after Jamal Ibrahim Maroof had put them ahead in the 29th minute. Nasser Masood scored the first equaliser 12 minutes into the second half with an overhead bicycle kick.
Adeilson found the second from a saved penalty kick by Carlos Villanueva after Edgar Bruno was brought down, but that was as close as Shabab got to parity.
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Published: May 2, 2014 04:00 AM