Dubai: Makhete Diop scored a hat-trick to help visiting Al Dhafra to a hard-fought 3-3 draw against defending champions Al Ahli in eighth round action of the Arabian Gulf League (AGL) on Thursday.
It was a match of contrasting fortunes that could be safely split into three parts. The first half belonged to the home team with territorial dominance, but it was Al Dhafra who scored first. The Red Knights, however, came roaring back early in the second-half when they bagged three goals in just five minutes to lead comfortably 3-1.
But it was the 29-year-old Senegalese striker spoiling the party when he got his second in the 69th minute and then the equaliser from the penalty spot in the 78th to deny the home side full points.
The result was a consolation for the defending champions following their 2-0 loss to Al Jazira in the seventh round last week. The one point helped Al Ahli to climb above neighbours Al Shabab into third place on a better goal difference with 14 points each, while Al Dhafra continued into eighth place with ten points.
Until those blistering five minutes of the second-half it looked as though Diop’s strike would suffice for a shock win for the visiting Al Dhafra as the Red Knights barely made any impression on the match.
But the second-half was a complete turnaround with the three quick goals that seem to take the punch out of the visiting team for a while. But they were far from finished as Diop — the 29-year-old from Senegal — scored a second time when he controlled well just inside the area and struck a shot into the roof of the net.
And on a cool evening when it looked like the Red Knights would put behind their disappointment of last week, Diop was fouled inside the box and the lanky Senegal striker sent Majid Nasser the wrong way to earn a well-deserved point.
Al Ahli v Al Dhafra 3-3