Dubai: Al Shabab coach Ilie Balaci is pleased with the character shown by his team in their shocking 3-1 win against former champions Al Ain in the Etisalat UAE Football League late on Monday.
Balaci, who had stomped out without speaking to journalists last week following Al Shabab's 2-2 draw against Al Shaab, was pleased that his boys were finally hitting the right notes.
"My players showed the right character tonight," Balaci told Gulf News.
Al Shabab are placed in the upper half with four points after three matches.
"It is particularly pleasing to see us starting with 11 and finishing the game with 11 players on the field," the Romanian added.
The match had been touted as a battle between two Romanians Al Ain's Anghel Iordanescu and Al Shabab's Balaci.
Both coaches are known for their on-field strategy. But it was Balaci who was sporting the broader smile after the home team scored three quick goals and then fell back to defending.
The hero for Al Shabab was Iranian import Eman Mobali. Considered a bright prospect in Iranian football, Mobali has represented his country at all age levels. He showed his temperament a minute away from the half hour mark by coolly slotting a penalty after Salim Sa'ad had been fouled inside the area by Fahad Ali.
Two minutes later, he latched on to a ball from Salim Sa'ad and scored from a narrow angle to give Al Shabab a 2-0 lead.
The visitors cut down the deficit when Al Shabab defender toed a Faisal Ali low ball into his own goal. But Al Shabab closed out the match, three minutes from halftime, as Eisa Obaid nudged in a long ball from Mobali.
"I am pleased with this match after two pathetic performances from our players," Balaci said.
Al Wahda, meanwhile, continued their slump with a solitary goal loss to Al Shaab in Sharjah. The goal came from defender Abdul Rahman when he curled a free kick on the seventh minute of the second half.
In the other match, defending champions Al Ahli put their campaign firmly on track with a hard-fought 2-1 away win against Dubai Club. Al Ahli now have six points from three matches.