SHARJAH // Marcelinho, the Brazilian forward, scored twice within five minutes to steer Sharjah to a 2-1 win over Al Ain.
The result moved Sharjah four places to fourth in the Pro League standings, taking their tally to 21 points while Al Ain were left on 11 and second last.
Marcelino scored from a penalty kick he himself earned, and then thrilled the home crowd with a spectacular dipping shot from the left flank that beat Ismail Rabee, the Al Ain goalkeeper, and landed in the far corner of the net to effectively seal the game.
The Brazilian could have completed a hat-trick had Rabee not been alert enough to tip over a rocket from 30 yards.
Fares Juma, the Al Ain defender, pulled one back when he headed home a corner from Omar Abdulrahman, the second-half substitute, to keep the game alive for the last 20 minutes.
Al Ain pressed hard for an equaliser but the Sharjah defence held on stubbornly in an action-filled second half.
Ali al Wehaibi's effort from inside the area was well held by Mahmood Ibrahim, the Sharjah goalkeeper, who also pushed out a powerful strike from Elias, the Brazilian, before Marcelinho double their lead from the very next move.
Al Ain had a couple of chances to take the lead in the first half. Elias hit the crossbar from a stinging shot from inside the area after the ball fell in his path following a tussle for a high ball between al Wehaibi and Gustavo, the Brazilian defender.
And al Wehaibi was wide from close-range effort after Brahima Keita, the Ivorian midfielder. But much of the play was confined to the midfield as the two teams from the bottom half of the table slugged it out in an uneventful first half.
Sharjah broke the deadlock in the 53rd minute. Marcelinho went crashing down with the minimum of contact from Mohammed Salem, the Al Ain defender, who was giving chase as the Brazilian stepped inside the area, and the referee had no hesitation in awarding the spot kick.
Sharjah are now only one point behind the third-placed Al Ahli, who were held to a 2-2 result for the second time by Kalba, the bottom team.
A third-place finish will earn a possible ticket to play in the 2012 Asian Champions League and Sharjah are now well on course to achieve it.
Al Jazira head the league on 35 points followed by Baniyas, who are seven behind them.