Dubai: Al Nasr ensured full points at home to leave Kalba hovering around the drop zone at the end of 22nd round of the Arabian Gulf League (AGL), late on Friday.
Ahmad Khamis opened the score for the home team midway through the first half, while substitute Salem Saleh added a second in the 80th minute. Never ones to give up, the visitors pulled one back in the final minute. But the scoreline remained at 2-1 as Al Nasr continued in sixth place with 32 points, while Kalba remained close to the relegation zone in eleventh position with 17 points against their name.
The last two spots in the 14-team standings are being occupied by Emirates Club and Bani Yas with 13 and 12 points respectively.
Both teams started off on a casual note, but it was Kalba who came close to finding an opening goal in the very sixth minute when Jociel Ferreira [Ciel] failed to nudge past Ahmad Shambieh on goal. However, two minutes later Al Nasr responded through Santos Wanderley as the Brazilian worked his way brilliantly through the heart of the Kalba defence, only to find his cross being blocked for an abortive corner.
The Al Nasr goal survived a second close call in the 13th minute when Modibo Maiga latched on to a ball that bounced off Shambieh but the alert goalkeeper saved from close range the second time.
The home side finally found an opener in the 22nd minute when Khamis connected a swerving delivery from Wanderley into the roof of the Kalba goal. Khamis was unlucky not to double the score on the half hour mark when his overhead kick struck the frame and bounced into play.
Play opened up in the second half and the visiting team came close to an equalizer in the 50th but Shambieh stopped a first-timer from Ciel from the top of the box. The home team put the issue out of reach for Kalba when substitute Salem Saleh received a Tariq Ahmad delivery, cut past goalkeeper Eisa and placed into an empty goal in the 80th minute.
The action was far from over as Kalba came close to pulling one back with just four minutes remaining when a Ciel free kick from well outside the area crashed against the framework. They finally did manage a goal when Baiga darted in to head in a Ciel corner kick to give Kalba a glimmer of hope. But that was all the visiting team could manage as they ran out of time.
The two earlier matches of Round 22 had ended in draws with Sharjah putting up a spirited fight for a 2-2 draw against already relegated Bani Yas, while Hatta left it late for a 1-1 draw against Al Shabab.
Bani Yas x Sharjah 2-2
Al Shabab x Hatta 1-1
Al Nasr x Kalba 2-1