Five previous meetings between Al Ahli and Al Ain

Al Ahli v Al Ain has become UAE football’s most heated rivalry, with the latest instalment, a potential league title decider, taking place tonight. John McAuley looks at recent games.

Al Ahli's forward Ahmed Khalil (L) vies for the header with Al Ain's midfielder Helal Saeed during their AFC Champions League football match at Sheik Hazza Bin Zayed stadium in Al-Ain, on May 27, 2015. AFP PHOTO
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Al Ahli v Al Ain has become UAE football’s most heated rivalry, with the latest instalment, a potential league title decider, taking place tonight. John McAuley looks at recent games.

Al Ain 3-3 Al Ahli, May 2015

A remarkable Asian Champions League last-16 second leg turned completely on its head in five madcap minutes after half time. Al Ain were 1-0 up in the match and on aggregate, but then Salmeen Khamis scored and Ahmed Khalil struck twice in what seemed the blink of an eye. Al Ain suddenly needed three to avoid exiting the competition on away goals. They managed one. Ahli were through to the quarter-finals and went all the way to the final.

Read more from John McAuley

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Al Ain 1-0 Al Ahli, May 2014

Al Ain’s awful league campaign had swung the balance of power in Ahli’s favour, with the Dubai club on their way to a first league title in five years. The two met in the President’s Cup final at Zayed Sports City, with Asamoah Gyan’s first-half strike clinching it. It was his 44th goal of the season. Al Ain had a sixth President’s Cup, Ahli’s hopes of a treble dashed.

Al Ain 2-3 Al Ahli, March 2014

Cosmin Olaroiu had controversially swapped clubs the previous summer, which led to touchline bans and court cases. As fate would have it, he was reinstalled in the dugout for the match at his former side. Ahli, on course for a sixth league crown, took the spoils thanks primarily to Grafite’s double, but three goals arrived in a whirlwind final 15 minutes. Ahli opened a six-point lead in the title race. They saw the job through.

Al Ain 1-2 Al Ahli, May 2013

An evermore tempestuous match-up was again marred by ill-discipline, as the two sides battled for a President’s Cup semi-final spot. Ahli went 2-0 up through first-half goals from Grafite and Basheer Saeed, before Alex Brosque pulled one back late on for the hosts. Omar Abdulrahman was shown a red card for protesting Gyan’s equaliser should have stood, reducing Al Ain to nine men. Mohammed Ahmed had walked earlier. Olaroiu finished the match being restrained by security. Ahli finished the campaign with the cup.

Al Ahli 0-0 Al Ain, April 2013

A disappointing stalemate, but the match would be remembered for the wrong reasons. In injury time, the referee’s assistant denied Ahli a penalty and was then struck by an object thrown from the home support. It drew a significant amount of blood, prompting the referee to cancel the match. Al Ain were eventually awarded a 3-0 victory. Ahli had to play their next two fixtures behind closed doors at a neutral venue. A highly unsavoury juncture in the rivalry.

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