Dubai: Shabab Al Ahli crushed a 10-man Al Wahda 4-0 at the Rashid Stadium on Wednesday night to narrow the deficit at the top of the Arabian Gulf League table to a point from leaders Sharjah.
Eid Khamis’ controversial strike put Shabab Al Ahli ahead and a fatigued Al Wahda could only watch as their hosts ran riot in the second half with Ahmed Jamil, Leonardo and Ahmed Khalil all finding the back of the net in what turned out to be a procession.
Defending champions Sharjah were three points ahead of Shabab Al Ahli going into the eighth round of games, but their goalless draw at home with Baniyas on Tuesday night opened the door for Rodolfo Arruabarrena’s men to edge closer.
Al Wahda were never going to be pushovers, but their fate had been sealed in the 11th minute when Al Hussain Saleh was sent off for bringing down rival striker Ahmed Khalil in the box.
Shabab Al Ahli were aggressive during the early exchanges and had an eighth minute opportunity when Al Wahda goalkeeper Mohammed Al Shamsi spilled Leonardo’s awkwardly bouncing effort, which he cleared in time before Henrique Luvannor could pounce.
Three minutes later, Al Wahda were reduced to 10 men, VAR rightly detecting Saleh’s shirt tug that felled Ahmed Khalil as he attempted to connect with Leonardo’s low cross from the left. The red card earned Shabab Al Ahli a penalty, but Leonardo failed to convert as he lost his footing just before shooting, sending the ball over the crossbar into the stands. It was a hilarious sight, but Arruabarrena was not amused.
Khalil had a shot to the far post blocked by Wahda ‘keeper Al Shamsi in the 33rd, with his goalkeeping counterpart Majed Nasser being called into action at the other end to thwart Wahda’s only first half opportunity.
Shabab Al Ahli went ahead in the 35th when Khamis stole a ball just outside the box on the right and rifled his shot past Al Shamsi into the top far corner. Khamis appeared to be in an offside position when he received the ball, but after consulting VAR the goal stood.
The hosts doubled their lead on 54 minutes, Jamil slotting between Al Shamsi and his near post having received a through ball from Mohammed Marzooq.
Khalil struck the crossbar with a well-weighted freekick from the top of the box in the 64th, and had a goal ruled out as offside in the 84th, but the Shabab Al Ahli veteran finished among the scorers in the 86th with a delicate placement after Leonardo had powered in a third from close range in the 81st.
In last night’s early game, Al Jazira left Hatta with full points after a 2-0 victory, courtesy a goal each from Khalfan Mubarak and Omar Abdulrahman.
In Tuesday night’s other games, Ittihad Kalba steamrolled Ajman 6-2, while rockbottom Khorfakkan were beaten 2-0 at home by Al Dhafra.
Round 8 results
Ittihad Kalba 6 Ajman 2
Khorfakkan 0 Al Dhafra 2
Sharjah 0 Baniyas 0