Dubai: Shabab Al Ahli Dubai kept pace with the early challengers following a 5-1 drubbing of Fujairah in Round Two action from the Arabian Gulf League (AGL) late on Friday.
Runners-up last season, Shabab Al Ahli Dubai marked their return to the Rashid Stadium in Al Ghusais, while scoring two goals apiece on either side of half-time to help themselves to full points for the second time in as many matches. The Red Knights had opened their AGL campaign last week with an away 3-0 win against debutants Hatta.
With just the late night Abu Dhabi derby left to the played, Shabab Al Ahli Dubai went to the top of the standings with defending champions Sharjah and Al Ain with six points each. Al Jazira could also joined these three teams, should they win against Al Wahda.
On a hot and humid evening, the encounter saw the home team’s dominance was never in question as they opened the scoring as early as in the sixth minute when the opportunistic Henrique Luvannor slammed in a loose ball that had spilled from goalkeeper Abdullah Al Tamimi’s hands following a corner.
Following that early breakthrough, it was young Mohammad Juma extending his run of goals for Shabab Al Ahli Dubai with a perfect finish to a pass from Yousuf Abdullah in the 16th minute. The visitors showed signs of a revival when a VAR consultation in the 35th minute allowed a William Jabor goal following a free kick from his captain Fahad Sabeel.
The second half belonged to the home team as Fujairah struggled on their fitness. The Shabab Al Ahli Dubai strikers made optimum use of this pumping in another three goals to push themselves to the top of the 14-team table.
First, it was national team striker Ahmad Khalil giving the easiest of touches to a pass from Luvannor to make it 3-1 in the 69th minute, while Swiss playmaker Davide Mariani smashed in after receiving from Khalil in the 73rd. Mohammad Jaber then got his name on the scoresheet as he rose high to outjump the entire defence and head in a corner with a minute left for the full-time whistle.
Meanwhile, in the other early match between two debutants, Fujairah was held to a 1-1 draw by Hatta at the Kalba Club Stadium. Raphael de Paula gave the home side the lead in the first-half injury period, while Abdullah Kazim rescued a point for Hatta with the equalizer in the 68th minute.
Shabab Al Ahli Dubai x Fujairah 5-1
Khor Fakkan x Hatta 1-1