Dubai: Sharjah, Al Nasr and Shabab Al Ahli Dubai were among the biggest beneficiaries at the end of sixth round action of the Arabian Gulf League (AGL) over the weekend.
Sharjah dug in deep for a hard-fought 2-1 win in Fujairah, Al Nasr helped themselves to a 1-0 win in Khor Fakkan while Shabab Al Ahli Dubai reclaimed their second place in the standings with a 3-1 result against Ajman.
Leaders since the start of the season, Sharjah maintained their position at the top with Ricardo Gomes giving them the lead in the 11th minute only to see Fernando Gabriel draw level for Fujairah during first half injury period.
Just when it looked like the match was heading towards a second straight draw for the defending champions, Yasser Salem was horrified to see his deflection enter his own goal in the 84th minute as Sharjah reassumed their position at the top with 16 points.
Shabab Al Ahli Dubai were far more methodical in the 3-1 win over Ajman. Henrique Luvannor opened the scoring in the 21st minute after referee Ahmad Eisa consulted the VAR before to rule that the Brazilian’s nod home was from an on-side position.
The home side doubled the lead in the 41st when Luvannor turned provider from the left flank for Esmail Al Hammadi to poke home from close.
Ajman kept things alive with Bobker Trawally pulling one back in the 52nd minute, only too see Yousuf Jaber heading in a Davide Mariani free kick in the 74th minute to quell nervous home fans.
Reduced to 10 men in the 13th minute following a red card to defender Mohammad Ali Shaker, Al Ain held on to a goalless draw against visiting Al Jazira and slipped by a spot into third. Assistant coach Damir Krznar, who came in place of Ivan Leko, was satisfied with the point though “There are no easy games any more,” Krznar admitted.
“Losing a player so early in the match had us re-orienting our strategy and we have to congratulate our players in giving everything out there,” the Croatian added.
Al Ain’s Brazilian forward Caio Canedo, who moved from Al Wasl this season, bore the brunt of the red card as he had to fill in as defensive midfielder through most of the encounter. “We had to make a lot of changes, knowing fully well that one tiny mistake could be punished by a high-quality team like Al Jazira. Finally, we have to be happy with one point,” the Brazilian said.
“No team can have easy matches, not even defending champions Sharjah. We just need to take such things in our stride and be prepared to give off everything for full points each time we step on to the pitch,” he added.
The seventh round of the AGL will be played on November 7-8.
Kalba 2 Bani Yas 1
Shabab Al Ahli Dubai 3 Ajman 1
Sharjah 2 Fujairah 1
Al Wasl 3 Hatta 1
Al Wahda 3 Al Dhafrah 1
Khor Fakkan 0 Al Nasr 1
Al Ain 0 Al Jazira 0
Standings: 1. Sharjah (16points); 2. Shabab Al Ahli Dubai (13); 3. Al Ain (13); 4. Al Jazira (11); 5. Al Nasr (10); 6. Al Wahda (9); 7. Al Wasl (7); 8. Ajman (7); 9. Al Dhafrah (7); 10. Bani Yas (6); 11. Kalba (6); 12. Fujairah (6); 13. Hatta (5); 14. Khor Fakkan (2).