Dubai: Bani Yas were the biggest movers of the week as defending champions Sharjah slipped for a second time in as many weeks after Round Eight of the Arabian Gulf League (AGL).
Suhail Al Noobi and Joao Pedro netted a brace each as Bani Yas thrashed Al Ain 4-1 at home, while defending champions Sharjah held visiting Shabab Al Ahli Dubai to a 1-1 draw in Matchweek 8 that was held to coincide with the UAE’s 49th National Day.
Bani Yas needed only two minutes to open the scoring as Joao Pedro connected to a cross from the right to tap into an empty net. The home side doubled their scoreline in the fifth minute as Nicolas Gimenez’s effort was blocked by Al Ain goalkeeper Khalid Eisa, but Al Noobi was lurking around to pounce on the rebound and drive home for an early 2-0 advantage.
Al Ain came close to reducing the margin, but first Laba Kodjo’s effort went wide and then Wilson Eduardo’s strike could not find the frame.
Bani Yas, who had lost their last two matches following a strong early start to the season, only grew in confidence and all but wrapped up the points when they found a third goal on the half-hour mark. Eisa managed a fine save to thwart Gastón Suarez but after his heroic save, Eisa could do nothing as Al Noobi tapped the ball past the outrushing goalkeeper and make it 3-0.
Al Ain finally managed to reduce the deficit in the 25th minute as a cross from Wilson Eduardo nestled directly into the back of the net. Former 13-time champions thought they had pulled a second one back in the 28th minute, but the effort was ruled out for a handball after a VAR review.
Bani Yas finally put the issue beyond doubt just before the full-time whistle as Pedro dribbled past a host of Al Ain defenders and slotted the ball home to raise their tally to 13 points, one behind Al Ain who sit in fourth place.
Another draw for Sharjah
Meanwhile, Sharjah slipped to their second successive draw of the season. Igor Coronado scored his eighth goal of the season but saw his contribution being cancelled out by a Yousef Jaber goal to split points for the second time in as many weeks.
After a couple of close calls on goals, it was the home side opening the scoring on the half-hour mark following a brilliantly taken penalty by Coronado to take his tally to eight goals.
Shabab Al Ahli came close to finding an equaliser as Yousef Jaber’s header off a freekick was saved by Sharjah goalkeeper Adel Al Hosani. But it was Jaber who ultimately got a point for his team in the 68th minute when his low-driven shot went past Al Hosani.
This was Sharjah’s second draw following a similar scoreline against Khor Fakkan last week. The defending champions continue at the top with 20 points, while Shabab Al Ahli Dubai climbed a couple of spots into sixth with 13 points.
In other games, Al Wasl secured a vital three away points with a 3-2 win against Ajman while Khor Fakkan secured an identical away result against Hatta as Al Jazira carved out a 3-0 win against Fujairah. Al Wahda and Al Dhafra played out a 1-1 deadlock, while Al Nasr were held to an exciting 3-3 draw by Kalba at home.
Ajman 2 Al Wasl 3
Fujairah 0 Al Jazira 3
Hatta 2 Khor Fakkan 3
Sharjah 1 Shabab Al Ahli Dubai 1
Al Wahda 1 Al Dhafra 1
Kalba 3 Al Nasr 3
Bani Yas 4 Al Ain 1
Standings: 1. Sharjah (20 pts); 2. Al Jazira (17); 3. Al Nasr (17); 4. Al Ain (14); 5. Al Wahda (14); 6. Shabab Al Ahli Dubai (13); 7. Bani Yas (13); 8. Kalba (13); 9. Al Wasl (12); 10. Al Dhafra (11); 11. Khor Fakkan (5); 12. Fujairah (4); 13. Ajman (2); 14. Hatta (1).