Adnoc Pro League wrap: Sharjah regain top spot

Slovenian defender Miral Samardzic helps Ajman stun Al Wahda

Khaled Al Dhahnani, right, who scored the opening goal in Sharjah’s 2-0 win, is challenged by Dibba's Jaja Silva in the Adnoc Pro League at Dibba Stadium on Sunday, December 25, 2022. Photo: PLC
Beta V.1.0 - Powered by automated translation

Sharjah’s victory over Dibba, followed by Shabab Al Ahli’s defeat to Baniyas, saw Cosmin Olaroiu’s side regain the top spot in Adnoc Pro League.

Khaled Al Dhanhani and Ousmane Camara were both on target in the second half in Sharjah’s 2-0 triumph. Their joy doubled when Shabab lost to Baniyas 2-1 in the late game.

That result moved Sharjah to the top on 26 points followed by Shabab on 25, while Ajman, Al Wahda and Al Jazira, were all on 23 at the end of matchweek 12.

The round saw a seventh win for Jazira when they overcame a stubborn Al Dhafra 3-2 at Mohamed bin Zayed Stadium and Al Nasr were held by the promoted Al Bataeh 2-2 at home on Saturday.

Dhafra grabbed the lead through Ali Eid in the 24th minute but Ashraf Bencharki cancelled it in stoppage time of the first half as the teams went into the break 1-1.

Ali Mabkhout, who set-up the Moroccan forward for the equaliser, struck twice thereafter for his side to take a 3-1 lead.

The UAE international curled in a superb free-kick into the bottom corner of the net on 64 minutes and converted a penalty two minutes into injury time. Mohammed Saif Al Ali pulled one back two minutes later but that was only a consolation.

Meanwhile, Nasr's woes continued as Al Bataeh returned with a valuable away point at the Al Maktoum Stadium.

The hosts took an early lead from a spot kick courtesy their Portuguese midfielder Joao Pedro after Saif Rashid was brought down by Rashid Mohammed Omar.

Omar Juma equalised three minutes later and Nasr went into the break leading 2-1 after Adel Taarabt struck before the break. Thereafter, Sekou Baba, who replaced Thibang Sindile on the hour, scored off a rebound to salvage the draw.

In the late game, defending champions Al Ain were held by Al Wasl 1-1 at the Hazza bin Zayed Stadium.

Kodjo Laba struck from inside the six-yard box from a low cross off Soufian Rahimi on eight minutes and Fabio de Lima grabbed the equaliser after picking up the ball inside the box as he drilled the ball into the back of the net on 33 minutes.

Christmas Day began with a stunning win for Ajman over Al Wahda at the Al Nahyan Stadium.

Miral Samardzic headed the winner from a corner in the 75th minute to leave a wasteful Wahda disappointed.

The home side enjoyed the bulk of possession during the game, but they failed to capitalise during the 90 minutes.

Meanwhile, Sharjah followed up their 4-0 triumph over Kalba five days ago with another impressive result over Dibba.

It took Olaroiu’s side 56 minutes to break the deadlock with Al Dhahnani finishing off a wonderful piece of work from Brazilians Luan Pereira and Caio Lucas that set him up inside the six-yard box. Camara sealed the game for them on 70 minutes.

Sharjah’s victory was marred by a red card to former Barcelona, Juventus and Roma midfielder Miralem Pjanic in the 17th minute for a needless altercation with Dibba’s Mansour Al Bloushi, who was also sent off.

In the two late games, Baniyas rallied from a goal down to beat Shabab Al Ahli 2-1 at the Rashid Stadium while Khor Fakkan fired in two late goals to clinch a 2-1 thriller over Kalba at home.

Walid Abbas put the home side in front when he headed Federico Cartabia’s cross on seven minutes.

Gaston Suarez cancelled the lead from a free kick on 24 minutes and Suhail Ahmed Al Noobi struck two minutes later. That lead remained good for the remainder of the game for Baniyas to end Shabab Al Ahli’s six-match winning streak.

Player of the round: Ali Mabkhout (Al Jazira)

The Jazira and UAE international marksman was on target twice in his team’s win. That keeps him on top of the Pro League scoring chart 13 goals in 11 games, one more than Al Ain’s Malian forward Kodjo Laba.

Manager of the round: Goran Tufegdzic (Ajman)

The Serbian has put his side in a position of strength after a stunning 1-0 result over Wahda. That was Ajman’s seventh win and they now appear to be one of the teams challenging for a top-four spot or perhaps the title itself.

Goal of the round: Miral Samardzic (Ajman)

The Slovenian centre-back rushed in front of the Wahda defence, towered above all, and headed home a corner beyond the reach of keeper Mohamed Al Shamsi to the far corner of the net to give his side a stunning win.

Updated: December 26, 2022, 9:22 AM