Late double strike sinks Al Ain
Al Ain 1 // Al Ahli 2
AL AIN // Two goals in two minutes was all that it took for Al Ahli's cagey veterans to overcome an impressive performance from Al Ain's youth brigade.
Pinga, the Brazilian midfielder, cancelled Al Ain's lead 10 minutes from time, and Faisal Khalil headed a cross from Bader Abdulrahman two minutes later as Ahli bounced back from a half-time deficit to win 2-1 in front of 7,458 fans at the Tahnoun bin Mohammed Stadium last night.
The youngsters from Al Ain, provided with the opportunity through injuries and suspension, had outshone and outplayed Al Ahli for more than an hour. But Ahli showed what experience can do.
They remained unruffled and scored when it mattered most. "I was very proud of my players," said David O'Leary, the Ahli coach. "I thought that we deserved a few breaks after the last two games. "I love this pitch and the crowd was great and I love that [Al Ain] are developing young players. They're a good team at home."
He said he was confident his team could overcome the half-time deficit. "We had some chances in the first half and missed them," he said. "I thought we always looked dangerous."
It was an important win for the Dubai club, who lost at Dhafra and drew at Kalba. It lifted them to eight points from five games and into a cluster of teams near the top of the table. Shehab Ahmed could have taken Al Ain to safety had he been on target with a shot from inside the box with Obaid al Taweela, the Ahli goalkeeper, out of position.
Al Ain went into the break with a deserved lead, and it came after a silly act of arrogance from al Taweela, who elbowed Mohammed Abdulrahman in the stomach.
The referee, Fareed al Marzouqi, awarded a penalty and also booked al Taweela. Omar Abdulrahman, Mohammed's younger brother, stepped up to fire the spot kick with elan.
Each side were missing a key striker through disciplinary action, but Al Ain's absent attacker, Jose Sand, left a bigger void than Ahli's Aristide Bance. Sand has five goals, Bance one.
Al Ain also were dealing with a lengthy injury list. Ali al Wehaibi, the UAE international midfielder, is the latest to be hurt.
Al Ain have seven players on the shelf, including Ibrahima Keita and Jomma Saeed, the Ivorian midfielders.
They are also fielding the third-choice goalkeeper, Abdullah Sultan, because Waleed Salem is still recovering from a back injury from last season and Yousuf Abdulrahman has been ruled out for the season after being seriously hurt in a car crash.
Published: October 1, 2010 04:00 AM