Al Ain consolidated their lead at the top of the Adnoc Pro League with a 1-0 victory over Al Dhafra while their closest challengers Al Jazira and Shabab Al Ahli dropped points in matchweek nine.
Soufian Rahimi netted the winner for Al Ain to take their tally to 21 points, five clear of the chasing pack of Jazira, Shabab Al Ahli and Al Nasr, at the Hazza bin Zayed stadium on Tuesday.
Rahimi dashed past his marker to fire in a perfect cross in the 68th minute for the only goal. Al Ain could have doubled the lead but Caio Canedo missed a penalty nine minutes from time.
Jazira forward Ali Mabkhout scored his 175th league goal from the penalty spot to match Fahad Khamis’ all-time record, levelling against Ajman after Bobker Trawally had put them ahead on 19 minutes.
Jazira suffered a huge setback when goalkeeper Ali Khaseif was sent off shortly before the hour and the hosts capitalised to regain the lead through a free-kick from Firas Ben Al Arbi.
Shabab Al Ahli were held to a scoreless draw at Kalba while Al Nasr clinched the Dubai derby with a 2-1 win over Al Wasl at the Zabeel stadium.
Nasr’s Portuguese midfielder Toze and Sebastian Tagliabue gave them a 2-0 lead at half time and Michel Araujo pulled one back for Wasl.
Tagliabue said his team showed real character to bounce back from a 3-0 thrashing by Kalba the previous week.
“It was indeed a good result after last week’s defeat to prove we are still good as a team,” he said.
“There are no weak teams in this league. We had one poor game but we have come back strongly from that result. The league is still a wide open race and we just need to keep pushing for full points.”
Al Ain remain undefeated with Al Wahda, who can climb up to second if they return with full points from Sharjah on Wednesday.