Dubai: Al Jazira kept up the pressure with an emphatic 3-0 win over visiting Al Nasr as defending champions Sharjah overcame a late scare before sealing full points against Fujairah to maintain their lead at the top of the Arabian Gulf League (AGL) standings.
Touted as the match of the week, Al Jazira set their own pace, scoring on either side of half-time to win comfortably against Al Nasr.
The home team took just 13 minutes to break the deadlock, as Ali Mabkhout’s through pass found Oumar Traore inside the box, and the Malian midfielder made no mistake tapping the ball home.
Al Jazira went into half-time with a 1-0 advantage, and then doubled their lead nine minutes into the second half when Khalfan Mubarak was brought down inside the box by Mahmoud Khamis and Mabkhout converted easily from the spot.
The Pride of Abu Dhabi then put the issue out of reach for Al Nasr in the 65th minute when Traore dribbled past the defence and beat the goalkeeper to net his second goal of the night.
Al Nasr were reduced to 10 men in the 89th minute after Khamis was sent off for a second booking, and Al Jazira joined them with a man short deep into injury time when Khalifa Al Hammadi was shown a straight red.
In Sharjah, the home team survived a late scare before scrapping past Fujairah 3-2. Caio Lucas opened the scoring seven minutes before the break after his header took a deflection off a Fujairah defender and went in.
Ten minutes after the restart, Igor Coronado got his name on the scoresheet when his lob gave the Fujairah goalkeeper no chance. Coronado completed his brace on the hour mark after he converted from the spot.
However, Fujairah came bouncing back as they reduced the deficit in the 67th minute after Samuel Armenteros converted a penalty. And then, Alvaro de Oliveira found Mutau Owolabi’s cross and scored the second nine minutes from the full-time whistle to pile on the pressure. But Sharjah managed to hold out for a well-deserved win and retain their top spot with 35 points.
In Abu Dhabi, Al Wasl gained vital points following their return to winning ways with a 2-0 away victory over Bani Yas. Nasser Mahmoud opened the scoring in the 22nd minute, while young Ali Saleh doubled the score in the 39th minute to hand the Cheetahs their sixth win of the season and take their tally to 20 points.
Former champions Al Ain suffered a setback after they were held to a 2-2 draw by Khor Fakkan at the Saqr Bin Mohammad Al Qasimi Stadium, but Shabab Al Ahli Dubai kept up the pressure on the leaders with a 2-0 win against Kalba.
Shabab Al Ahli found the back of the net in the 28th minute when Abdulaziz Haikal’s inch-perfect cross found Mohammad Juma inside the box and the diminutive youngster rose high to head home. The hosts doubled their lead just two minutes later as Majid Hassan’s powerful shot from outside box went into the top corner of the net.
Ajman 2 Al Dhafra 1
Hatta 1 Al Wahda 4
Al Jazira 3 Al Nasr 0
Shabab Al Ahli Dubai 2 Kalba 0
Khor Fakkan 2 Al Ain 2
Bani Yas 0 Al Wasl 2
Sharjah 3 Fujairah 2
1. Sharjah 35 points
2. Al Jazira 30
3. Bani Yas 26
4. Al Ain 24
5. Al Nasr 24
6. Shabab Al Ahli Dubai 22
7. Al Wahda 22
8. Al Wasl 20
9. Kalba 19
10. Al Dhafra 16
11. Khor Fakkan 15
12. Ajman 9
13. Fujairah 7
14. Hatta 2