Dubai: Glauber Siqueira Lima played the role of super-sub perfectly as he came off the bench in the 82nd minute and scored the match-winner for Al Nasr in their 2-1 defeat of Ittihad Kalba at Al Maktoum Stadium in Dubai.
It was a strange game with Al Nasr denied a goal from a 65th-minute penalty that was successfully converted by Antonio Carvalho after Ryan Mendes was brought down in the box.
And later Lima’s goal too, at first, was denied by referee Yahya Al Mulla, who decided to consult VAR on a supposed infringement against an Kalba defender in the box. Al Mulla raced to the screen to reconfirm and returned back pointing to the centre of the field and deeming Lima’s 88th-minute winner legitimate.
That saw Al Nasr claim full points and move up one spot to take over fourth from Shabab Al Ahli, who beat Sharjah 1-0 late Monday evening.
Mendes was driving his markers crazy with forceful runs down the centre and the Frenchman nearly got the hosts their first in the 21st when he wove his way into the box only for the ball to be cleared off his feet before he could pull the trigger.
And he would play a crucial role in Al Nasr opening the scoring in the 38th minute as he once again drove forward charismatically and released Sebastian Tagliabue down the right. Tagliabue nudged the ball into the box and placed to the right of Ittihad Kalba goalkeeper Jamal Alsarrah, who got a hand to the ball but couldn’t keep it from rolling into his goal.
After Ittihad Kalba found a way back with Peniel Mlapa’s leveller following a defensive error by Al Nasr in the 54th, Mendes earned the penalty that was denied amid controversy.
Al Nasr had been the better side all night and they were rightfully handed full points after Lima’s strike stood despite the drama that surrounded it.
In the other early start on Tuesday, Al Wahda cruised to a 3-0 victory at Dhafra’s Hamdan Bin Zayed Stadium. Omar Khrbin drew first blood for Wahda in the 31st, with Abdulla Hamad doubling their advantage in the 42nd. Tim Matavz added a third in the 78th after an assist from Ismaeil Matar.
Sixth-placed Al Ain went down 2-1 to second-placed Bani Yas at the Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium, meaning the visitors sustained their chase of leaders Al Jazira, and are two points behind in the title race.
On Monday, Al Wasl beat Ajman 4-2, while table-toppers Al Jazira claimed an identical success against Fujairah in the early matches, while the two late games ended 1-0 each with Khor Fakkan defeating Hatta and Shabab Al Ahli getting the better of Sharjah.