Abu Dhabi: Al Jazira are the new Arabian Gulf League champions. The two-time winners put the 2020/21 campaign to bed late on Tuesday night - the final day of the season - with a comfortable 3-1 victory against Khor Fakkan at the Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi.
It was Al Jazira’s title to lose and Marcel Keizer’s men approached the game with a winning mentality. An Al Jazira win meant no matter what Bani Yas did against visiting Al Wahda the title would go to the Abu Dhabi city outfit, who were a point ahead of the Sky Blues going into the final round.
- Arabian Gulf League: Bani Yas coach Isaila calls for focus in AGL title fight in UAE
- Arabian Gulf League: Bani Yas miss chance to catch Al Jazira at top of AGL table
- Football: Arabian Gulf League title race to go down to the wire in UAE
- UAE football: Fireworks as Arabian Gulf League heads into finishing straight with Al Jazira edging Bani Yas
Bani Yas had to win to keep their hope alive and even then Al Jazira would have to draw or lose. The chances of that happening were slim at best. AndAl Jazira did not let that happen despite playing nearly two-thirds of the game a man down following the 37th-minute sending off of playmaker Khalfan Mubarak.
And after Oumar Traore opened the scoring on 10 minutes curling the ball in at the far post after being set up by Mabkhout, the latter, the AGL’s topscorer, added a second on 29 minutes from close range.
Mubarak fell victim to VAR as the system confirmed his jab as a red card offence with referee Sultan Mohamed Saleh reversing his earlier decision to issue a yellow.
Khor Fakkan could have pulled one back on the stroke of half-time, but Jazira goalkeeper Ali Khaseif dived to his right to thwart Bruno Lamas’ long-range effort.
Then, just two minutes after resumption, a close-range strike by Abdalla Alrefaey was ruled as offside following a review of the lead-in play. At the other end, despite being referred, Traore’s second for Al Jazira stood. Bani Yas had just scored through a Gaston Suarez penalty, but their hopes would have been deflated by Traore consolidating Al Jazira’s position in the game further. And the Sky Blues were dealt another blow in the 68th after Omar Khribin levelled for Wahda from an Ismail Mattar assist. It finished 1-1 there.
Meanwhile, at Al Jazira, Khalfan Al Noobi scored after a deft run down the centre to reduce the deficit for Khor Fakkan as it finished 3-1 with the Abu Dhabi giants picking up a third League championship.
Ajman needed to beat fellow relegation-battlers Fujairah on the road to keep their hope of retaining their spot in next season’s AGL alive, and did just that with Leandro Spadacio’s late strike ensuring a 2-1 victory. Al Ramadi’s men, however, remain in the danger zone, as Fujairah have a game in hand against Al Wahda on May 15, which they must win to have a chance of staying afloat in top-flight UAE football.
Elsewhere, Shabab Al Ahli’s 3-2 win at Al Nasr helped them replace Sharjah in third in the table and claim the AFC Champions League qualifier spot. Defending champions Sharjah were forced to forego continental football after their slender 1-0 defeat by Kalba. In other matches Al Wasl beat visiting Al Dhafra 2-1, while relegated Hatta were dealt a 1-0 defeat at Al Ain.