Dubai: Bani Yas and defending champions Sharjah maintained their early push with their third consecutive wins of the season at the end of the week’s action in the of the Arabian Gulf League (AGL) over the weekend.
Two first-half goals were enough for Sharjah to coast to a 2-1 win over Al Ain at the Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium, while Bani Yas maintained their perfect start with a 5-0 thrashing of 10-man Khor Fakkan at the Bani Yas Stadium. Both teams now remain at the top of the standings with nine points apiece, although Bani Yas take the top spot with a better goal difference.
Sharjah got off to an electrifying start and they broke the deadlock in the 16th minute when Caio Lucas Fernandes capitalised on a defensive howler from Mohammad Shaker and drilled the ball into the bottom corner of the net.
On the half-hour mark, it was their star playmaker Igor Coronado who doubled the lead when he got at the end of a loose ball, cut inside the box before sending an unstoppable curler that nestled into the top corner.
Al Ain started the second half in a much better state as they kept pushing forward in order the reduce the deficit. In the 71st minute, Bauyrzhan Islamkhan tried his luck from a long range, but his powerful stunner cannoned off the post.
Eight minutes before the full-time whistle, Shaker turned from villain to hero as he converted Islamkhan’s free-kick with a brilliant towering header to pull one back for the home side.
Bani Yas kept up their strong early-season form with a 5-thumping of visiting Khor Fakkan, who were reduced to 10 men just seven minutes into the game.
The game got off to a fiery start as Bani Yas took the lead in the seventh minute after Gastón Suárez converted from the spot following a rash foul and sending off of Kouame Autonne. The Sky Blues kept up the pressure and earned a second penalty as Joao Pedro was fouled and Nicolas Gimenez converted from the spot in the 20th minute.
Joao Pedro got his name on the scoresheet eight minutes later, when he picked up a cross from Suhail Al Noubi and netted into the bottom corner to make it 3-0 for Bani Yas. Only two minutes away from half-time, Al Noubi came up with his second assist of the night as his inch-perfect cross found John Tibar to head home and hand the home side a 4-0 cushion.
Khor Fakkan finally found the net in the 80th minute, but Omar Juma’s goal was ruled an offside after consulting VAR. Ahmed Abunamous finally rounded off the scoring for Bani Yas as his curling delivery went into the far corner.
Khor Fakkan continue at the bottom of the table following a third defeat and no points, while Bani Yas continue enjoying their early rush of form with maximum nine points after three matches.
Al Wahda settled for a hard-fought 1-1 draw against Shabab Al Ahli Dubai, while both Ajman and Hatta earned their first points of the season with an identical 1-1 draw in Ajman.
In earlier matches played on Thursday, Al Dhafra continued with their display of good form with a 3-1 win against travelling Fujairah, Al Jazira finally bagged an outright win with a 2-0 result against Kalba, while Al Nasr further piled the miseries for neighbours Al Wasl with a dominating 3-0 win.
Al Dhafra 3 Fujairah 1
Al Jazira 2 Kalba 0
Al Wasl 0 Al Nasr 3
Al Wahda 1 Shabab Al Ahli Dubai 1
Ajman 1 Hatta 1 Al Ain 1 Sharjah 2
Bani Yas 5 Khor Fakkan 0