Dubai: Brazilians Welliton Soares and Igor Jesus Maciel da Cruz were in the limelight with hat-tricks as Sharjah and Shabab Al Ahli Dubai stayed on course with dominating wins in fourth-round action of the Arabian Gulf League AGL), earlier this week.
Soares – currently the topscorer in the AGL wih six goals to his name – scored three times as defending champions Sharjah kept their winning record intact with a 5-0 swamping of Al Dhafra late on Tuesday. Shabab Al Ahli Dubai, runners-up last season, also kept their perfect record with a 3-0 home win against Hatta in Wednesday’s feature match.
It was 19-year-old Maciel da Cruz, commonly known as Igor Jesus, who was the toast for the home side at the club’s Al Awir Stadium in the ‘AGL Flag Round Day’, late on Wednesday.
A product of the youth ranks of Coritiba in the state of Parana, the 19-year-old gave his new club the lead from their first real chance after he connected a cross from Carlos Eduardo inside the box with a left-footed effort in the 21st minute.
Igor Jesus came close to a second five minutes later, but his header off Aziz Ganiev’s cross hit the woodwork. But the hard-working Brazilian had the match done and dusted early in the second half with two quick goals that took the steam out of the Hatta resilience.
Heldon Ramos crossed the ball to Igor Jesus inside the box and the latter slotted home with a deft finish in a manner similar to his first goal, while in the 51st minutes the teen completed his hat-trick as an inch-perfect cross from Aziz Ganiev was met by a powerful header past Hatta goalkeeper Ahmad Mahmoud.
The win helped Shabab Al Ahli Dubai move into fourth place with eight points, while Hatta dropped to 13th place with just one point to show.
The exploits a second Brazilian were on offer as Sharjah smashed five past travelling Al Dhafra. Soares was responsible for the first goal as the home was awarded a penalty after the Brazilian was brought down in the area in the 20th minute. Fellow Brazilian Igor Coronado converted from the spot to give Sharjah the lead.
The hosts doubled their lead in the 36th minute after a string of passes and impressive teamwork found Luan Pereira’s long shot directed towards the goal fell into Soares’ path and the Brazilian forward tapped it into the net. Coronado ensured a healthy 3-0 cushion just before half-time when his stinging shot found the far corner of the Al Dhafra goal.
Sharjah needed just four minutes after the restart to grab their fourth goal as Khalid Ebrahim’s cross went to Soares inside the box and the striker made no mistake placing past Khalid Al Senani. Four minutes after the hour mark, Majid Suroor launched a counterattack and sent a defence-splitting pass into Soares’ path and the 34-year-old beat his marker and blasted a left-footed shot past the goalkeeper to complete his hat-trick.
Sharjah continued to top the standings while taking their tally to 12 points, while Al Dhafra succumbed to their first defeat of the season to remain in seventh with seven points.
Fujairah 1 Al Ain 1
Sharjah 5 Al Dhafra 0
Al Nasr 3 Ajman 0
Bani Yas 1 Al Jazira 3
Kalba 0 Al Wasl 3
Khor Fakkan 1 Al Wahda 2
Shabab Al Ahli Dubai 3 Hatta 0
1. Sharjah 12 pts
2. Al Nasr 10
3. Bani Yas 9
4. Shabab Al Ahli Dubai 8
5. Al Jazira 8
6. Al Wahda 7
7. Al Dhafra 7
8. Al Wasl 6
9. Al Ain 5
10. Kalba 3
11. Fujairah 1
12. Ajman 1
13. Hatta 1
14. Khor Fakkan 0