Dubai: Sharjah consolidated their position at the top of the standings while close contenders Al Jazira and Al Nasr dropped vital points at the end of the 12th round of the Arabian Gulf League (AGL) played over the weekend.
The defending champions scored a goal each at either end of the match to walk away with a 2-0 win against neighbouring Ajman while Al Jazira and Al Ain played out an exciting 2-2 draw and Al Nasr was held at home also to a 2-2 draw by visiting Al Wahda.
Playing at home, Sharjah took full points with Brazilian Igor Coronado capping a fine team effort in the seventh minute and open the scoring. Fellow Brazilian Welliton Soares doubled the score in the very last minute of the match following a penalty after being brought down.
The win ensured Sharjah’s position at the top of the standings as they went up to 29 points, while Ajman hit an all-time low to slip down into 13th place with just three points.
Al Jazira and Al Nasr both faltered in their encounters against Al Ain and Al Wahda with identical 2-2 draws.
10-man Al Ain fight their way
Ten-man Al Ain fought their way to hold a resilient Al Jazira 2-2 with Brazilian Caio Canedo the star for the team from the Garden City. Canedo, who is scheduled to join the UAE national team probables for their friendly against Iraq on January 12, opened the scoring in the 23rd minute and then added a second in the 37th minute.
However, just before the half-time whistle, Al Ain were reduced to 10 men after a second booking on Yahya Nader. Given a numerical advantage, Al Jazira came up with two quick goals within two minutes to clinch a point. Bruno de Oliveira pulled one back in the 61st minute and two minutes later Khalfan Mubarak ensured an equalizer.
In Dubai, Al Nasr dropped vital points against Al Wahda. The men in blue went clear in the ninth minute through their Israeli signing Diaa Saba. The visitors got an equaliser four minutes after the restart when Paul Jose Mpoku found the back of the Al Nasr net. South Korean Lee Myung-joo got a second in the 59th minute for the black and white stripes from the capital. But, caique Jesus Da Silva bagged an equaliser one minute into injury period to help Al Nasr remain the hunt.
Also dropping points were last season’s runners-up Shabab Al Ahli Dubai following yet another 2-2 result at the Zabeel Stadium.
Despite losing Abdul Rahman Saleh to a red card following a rough tackle, Joao Figueiredo netted a brace in the third and 14th minutes to ensure a 2-0 advantage to the home team at the end of the first half. But the visitors fought back and scored two quick goals in the second half through Carlos Eduardo to ensure they remained within striking distance of the top teams this season.
Bani Yas, meanwhile, had no problems bagging full points with a 3-1 win over neighbours Al Dhafra, while Khor Fakkan too returned home with full points with a 2-1 win against neighbouring Fujairah.
Fujairah 1 Khor Fakkan 2
Sharjah 2 Ajman 0
Al Ain 2 Al Jazira 2
Kalba 0 Hatta 0
Al Nasr 2 Al Wahda 2
Bani Yas 3 Al Dhafra 1
Al Wasl 2 Shabab Al Ahli Dubai 2
Standings: 1. Sharjah (29 pts); 2. Al Jazira (27); 3. Al Nasr (24); 4. Bani Yas (23); 5. Al Ain (20); 6. Al Wahda (19); 7. Kalba (19); 8. Shabab Al Ahli Dubai (16); 9. Al Wasl (16); 10. Al Dhafra (15); 11. Khor Fakkan (11); 12. Fujairah (7); 13. Ajman (3); 14. Hatta (2).