Al Ain: Al Ain laid their hands on the Etisalat Pro League for a record 11th time after trouncing Dubai 3-0 yesterday at Al Qattara Stadium four weeks before the end of the competition. They have hence become the first team to win the league twice on the trot since it turned professional.
Asamoah Gyan, Al Ain’s top scorer, was the hero of his team — firing a hat-trick to increase his tally to 28 goals this season beating Brazilian striker Grafite of Al Ahli by four goals.
Dubai started the match on an attacking mode and looked capable of denying the home team the chance to celebrate the league title early. They succeeded in keeping the home team’s players at bay till the 36th minute when Ahmad Al Shamsi sent a high ball from the left flank to find Gyan as the Ghanaian star headed home to break the stubborn resistance of the visitors.
Al Shamsi was about to add the second goal in the 54th minute but his curling freekick rebounded from the bar only for Gyan to add his second goal only two minutes later and — again with a header from a cross by Mohammad Salem. The World Cupper then completed his hat-trick in the 75th minute with a first time volley following a long pass from sweeper Mohannad Al Enazy. Al Ain deserved to win the title with their attacking force that scored 69 goals, the highest in the league and with a disciplined defence that conceded only 20 goals in 22 matches, also the best in the competition.
The title is the 27th one overall in the history of the club, including 11 league titles, five President’s Cups, four Super Cups and an AFC Champions League title from 2003.
Omar Abdul Rahman, the sensation of the team who attracted much attention from big European clubs this season with his performances with his club and country, expressed delight with the victory. “I am happy to have won the title for a second season in a row. I am pleased for our loyal fans who supported us during a tough season and I do hope that this victory will motivate us in our next obligation in the AFC Champions League against Al Hilal in Riyadh on Tuesday.
“It was a tough and long season but thankfully, we secured the title before four weeks and we will concentrate now on the AFC CL and the President’s Cup.”
Al Ain will also face Al Ahli in the semifinals of the President’s Cup in their way to win their third title this season after starting the season by winning the Super Cup against Al Jazira in the curtain-raiser of the local professional competitions.