The UAE have suffered a second defeat in three matches under new manager Jorge Luis Pinto, losing 3-1 to Bahrain in Dubai on Monday night.
The home side, who on Thursday came from behind to secure a last-gasp victory against Tajikistan, led the Gulf champions until the 75th minute at Zabeel Stadium, with Caio Canedo netting a first goal for his adopted country.
However, the UAE conceded a penalty to prompt a late flurry from Bahrain, who have now lost only twice in 18 matches. The fixture was Pinto’s third official friendly since he was appointed in July.
Bahrain had begun the brighter on Monday, the visitors striking the upright on four minutes through a beautifully curled effort from Jasim Al Shaikh. Not long after, Al Shaikh drove another shot inches beyond the UAE post. Then, Mohammed Jameel raced clear down the hosts' left only to lift the ball high and wide.
From there, though, the UAE sparked into life and quickly grabbed the advantage.
In the 34th minute, Ali Mabkhout flicked the ball on to Caio, who jinked inside two defenders and fired into the roof of the net just as he slipped. Making his second appearance for the UAE, it was a fine finish.
Pinto's men should have gone into half-time at least another goal to the good, but Mabkhout’s low shot was saved superbly by Bahrain goalkeeper Sayed Jaffer, while the Al Jazira striker then headed tamely wide from Fabio De Lima’s cross. Mabkhout made way for Al Nasr counterpart Sebastian Tagliabue at the break.
A minute after the restart, Tagliabue was subjected to a nasty challenge from Ahmed Bughammar, and his angry protestations saw the Bahrain defender booked. Caio was later withdrawn having seemingly picked up an injury.
With 15 minutes remaining, Bahrain pulled level. Tagliabue chopped down Ali Jaffer instead of shepherding the ball out of play, leaving Mohammed Jassim to expertly convert the spot-kick. It was just reward for his side’s growing dominance. At the other end, De Lima was denied on the line by a brilliant Bughammar block, although the Brazil-born forward really should have scored.
The UAE were soon made to pay for squandering a golden chance, Mohammed Saad rattling in a rebound after Essa had saved Bughammar’s header right from a corner.
Bahrain added a third five minutes from time, when a fine move on their left allowed Saad to evade his marker inside the area and send the ball high past Essa. Both teams resume their 2022 World Cup qualifying campaign in March.