Emirates 1-2 Al Ahli
Emirates Holman 23'
Ahli Sow 45', 46'
Man of match: Moussa Sow (Ahli)
Given a rare run-out at the tip of the Al Ahli attack, Moussa Sow seized the opportunity and in turn cranked up his side’s Arabian Gulf League title challenge.
The Senegalese forward, one of the most expensive imports in UAE football history, has endured a difficult first few months since joining the club in September from Turkey’s Fenerbahce for a reported €16 million (Dh64m) transfer fee.
With three goals in 15 matches, some felt it was scant return for the investment, prompting speculation he would soon be back plying his trade in Europe.
However, on Wednesday night against Emirates Club, Sow struck either side of half-time to secure a 2-1 victory and consolidate Ahli’s place as the closest competitor to leaders Al Ain.
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The come-from-behind victory in Ras Al Khaimah, after Brett Holman’s belated Christmas cracker had supplied Emirates a 23rd-minute lead, lifted Ahli to four points off the summit. Crucially, they still have a game in hand on the defending champions.
Sow’s double contribution decided the match and kept Al Ain within reach. Injury had shorn Ahli of Rodrigo Lima, the master marksman with 19 goals since his own summer move, so Sow deputised.
He more than held the fort, although his first goal, moments before half-time, owed much to poor officiating. Sow was offside when Abdulaziz Sanqour crossed from deep, then again when Salmeen Khamis tipped it onto the post. In the absence of the lineman’s flag, Sow swept the ball home.
Immediately after the break, he pounced to plunder his second, tapped into an empty Emirates net once home goalkeeper Ali Saqr failed to deal with Everton Ribeiro’s close-range effort.
Sow was denied a hat-trick late on when his overhead kick was saved, but at least he had his two goals and, eventually, Ahli the spoils. The 2013/14 champions next face fourth-placed Al Wasl on January 4, when they will contest their 13th match in seven weeks. Win that, too, and they begin the second half of the campaign hot on Al Ain’s heels.
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