Al Jazira seal Arabian Gulf League title after easing past Khorfakkan

Abu Dhabi club claim 3-1 win while title rivals Baniyas draw 1-1 at home to Al Wahda

Al Jazira have been crowned UAE champions for the third time following their 3-1 victory against Khorfakkan on Tuesday night.

The Abu Dhabi side, who went into the Arabian Gulf League finale knowing a win would guarantee the title, prevailed at the Mohamed bin Zayed Stadium thanks to an Oumar Traore double and a goal from Ali Mabkhout.

However, the hosts played the majority of the match with 10 men after Khalfan Mubarak was awarded a straight red on 36 minutes. Khorfakkan did score a consolation in second-half injury-time, through substitute Khalfan Al Noubi.

Nevertheless, the result rendered redundant second-placed Baniyas’ 1-1 draw with Al Wahda. All Round 26 fixtures took place simultaneously on Tuesday.

The league crown represented Jazira’s third following successes in 2010/11 and 2016/17. They concluded the season with 17 wins from 26 games, suffering only three defeats.

Mabkhout, meanwhile, took home the Arabian Gulf League’s Golden Boot, finishing the campaign on 25 goals. It marked the second time he completed the season as the division’s leading scorer.

Heading into the final round with a one-point lead in the table, Jazira got off to the perfect start when Traore raced onto Mabkhout’s superb through-ball in the 10th minute and curled expertly his first-time shot past Khorfakkan goalkeeper, Ahmed Mahmoud.

Roles were then reversed on 29 minutes, Mabkhout pouncing upon a rebound from Traore’s shot to lift the ball slyly over Mahmoud. After a brief check with the Video Assistant Referee, the goal stood.

Seemingly cruising towards the title, Jazira’s delight was tempered somewhat seven minutes later, once Mubarak’s late stamp on Kouame Autonne was upgraded via VAR from a yellow card to red.

Jazira then survived another scare not long into the second half, when Abdalla Al Refaey had a goal disallowed for a fractional offside.

Marcel Keizer’s men regrouped to make safe the game just before the hour mark, Mabkhout bursting forward and once more assisting Traore, who took the pass brilliantly and finished with aplomb. Again, VAR was consulted, but the Malian winger was shown to be onside. It was his fifth league goal of the season.

Khorfakkan were given something to cheer deep into stoppage time, with Al Noubi drilling a low shot past Ali Kasheif moments after being introduced.

Still, Jazira avenged their 3-0 defeat to Khorfakkan earlier in the campaign, and in the process captured the title. The capital club were presented the Arabian Gulf League trophy on the pitch after the game.

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