Abu Dhabi: Sharjah and Al Jazira took advantage of Al Ain’s ongoing Fifa Club World Cup commitments to jump ahead of them in the Arabian Gulf League over the weekend.
Sharjah pulled into a solo lead with a 4-0 win at home to second-from-bottom Emirates on Thursday, thanks to braces from Ryan Mendes and Welliton.
Al Jazira, meanwhile, joined Al Ain in second, three points behind Sharjah, with a 3-1 win at home to Al Nasr on Friday.
Fares Juma netted an own goal for Al Jazira to put Al Nasr ahead after the break, but despite this and the fact that Al Jazira had been down to 10 men since Khalifa Al Hammadi’s first-half sending off, they still managed to fight back.
Mohammad Ayed’s sending off for Al Nasr preceded the comeback, which only began with 11 minutes to spare, after which Leonardo equalised, and Ernest Asante secured a last-minute winner before Khalfan Mubarak extended in stoppage time.
Al Ain, who have faced Wellington and ES Tunis so far in the Club World Cup, will have time to respond to Sharjah and Al Jazira’s advances with a game in hand at home to fifth-placed Al Wahda to be played in due course, but for now the mental advantage is with those who have pulled ahead.
Other games saw fourth-placed Shabab Ahli pull to within three points of Al Ain and Al Jazira with a 1-0 win away to Fujairah, courtesy of a last minute strike from Salmeen Khamis.
Sixth-placed Ajman were held to a goalless draw at home to 10th placed Al Dhafra.
Seventh-placed Bani Yas thrashed bottom side Dibba 6-1 at home. Abdul Rahim Ahli’s sending off for Dibba after the half hour opened the floodgates for Bani Yas, with Pedro Conde’s hat-trick and another three from Suhail Al Noubi, Leroy George and Ahmad Al Shamisi only being disrupted by Masoud Juma’s effort for Dibba.
Elsewhere, Al Wasl fell into the bottom three, two points above the relegation zone with a 3-1 defeat away to eighth-placed Kalba. Hamad Al Hammadi’s early own goal for Kalba preceded a second half brace by Myke Ramos and a single from Giovanni Sio.