Dubai: Al Jazira dropped vital points to Al Nasr, while all the other big teams secured comfortable wins as the 2020-21 Arabian Gulf League (AGL) opened over the weekend.
Al Jazira fought back for a 1-1 away draw against ten-man Al Nasr in Round One’s last match late on Saturday, after defending champions Sharjah and runners-up Shabab Al Ahli Dubai had begun on a promising note with contrasting wins against Fujairah and Kalba, respectively.
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Sharjah were stretched to the limit before securing a hard-fought 4-2 away win against Fujairah, while Shabab Al Ahli Dubai also landed away points with a 3-0 result against Kalba.
Former 13-time league champion Al Ain also secured full points with a 2-0 win over Khor Fakkan after Al Wahda had hammered Hatta Club 6-0 on the opening match earlier on Thursday. Al Dhafra had done well with a 4-1 win over Ajman, while Bani Yas proved to be good travellers with a 4-1 result against Al Wasl.
Playing at an empty Al Maktoum Stadium, Al Nasr did well to snatch the lead as early as the fourth minute as Ryan Mendes slotted home a Habib Al Fardan rebound that came off the post. Al Nasr pressed and should have at least doubled their lead, but Portuguese playmaker Toze’s effort went inches away from goal midway through the first half.
The visitors levelled in the 34th minute as a Salem Rashid cross found Khalfan Mubarak, who relayed on to Zayed Al Ameri to place into the Al Nasr goal.
Away in Fujairah, defending champions Sharjah had to come from behind for a 4-2 win against the hosts. Welliton Soares put the King ahead in the 21st minute following an assist from Khalid Bawazir. The Wolves bounced back in the 37th minute when a long ball from Mutua Owolabi found Kristiano Samuel’s first-time effort sail into the Sharjah goal for the equaliser.
The home team took the lead for the first time in 52nd minute after Farley Rosa dribbled past a couple of Sharjah defenders and passed on to Firas Ben Al Arbi to score past Adel Al Hossani.
Welliton scored his second in the 79th minute to help the defending champions draw level after a perfect ball from Caio Lucas found the Brazilian’s header sail past Abdullah Al Tamimi’s outstretched hands. The influential Igor Coronado gave Sharjah the lead once again after the Brazilian’s free kick from outside the penalty area found the far corner of Al Tamimi’s goal just one minute past full-time.
Deep into injury period Sharjah were awarded a penalty and it was Caio who got his name on the scoring list as he placed to the far corner to gather full points for the defending champions.
The second round of AGL matches will be held on October 22-23.
Al Wahda 6 Hatta 0
Al Dhafra 4 Ajman 1
Al Wasl 1 Bani Yas 4
Fujairah 2 Sharjah 4
Al Ain 2 Khor Fakkan 0
Kalba 0 Shabab Al Ahli Dubai 3
Al Nasr 1 Al Jazira 1