Dubai: Al Ain coach Zlatko Dalic was left to rue missed opportunities after a 1-1 draw away to bottom-of-the-league Bani Yas saw the Boss slip back down to second on Saturday.
Al Ain had leapfrogged both Al Jazira and Al Wasl for first midweek after winning their game in hand 3-2 away to Hatta on Tuesday, but after Al Jazira beat Al Wasl 3-2 away on Friday, Al Jazira regained the top spot.
The Boss just needed to overcome lowly Bani Yas away on Saturday in order to return to the top of the table, but it wasn’t to be.
Omar Abdul Rahman put the visitors ahead after 11 minutes but Bani Yas’ new French winger Harry Novillo, who has just joined from Turkey’s Manisaspor, scored on his debut to peg Al Ain back with 20 minutes to spare.
“We wasted an opportunity to enhance our position in the league, especially after going ahead,” said Dalic.
“We weren’t able to translate chances into goals, we boosted our offence but to no avail. We strengthened to get a second goal and ended up giving opportunities to our opponents.
“Football requires serious focus from beginning to end,” he added.
Al Jazira are now one point clear of Al Ain with Al Wasl two points behind in third, level on points with Al Ahli, who beat third-from-bottom Emirates 3-0 away on Friday.
Al Wahda are five points behind both Al Wasl and Al Ahli in fifth after their 3-2 win at home to 10th-placed Hatta on Saturday.
Al Nasr are two points behind in sixth after they were held to a 2-2 draw at home to eighth-placed Al Dhafra on Saturday and Al Shabab are seventh after a goalless draw away to ninth-placed Sharjah on Friday. Elsewhere, 11th-placed Kalba beat second-from-bottom Dibba 3-2.
The draw against Al Ain was good news for struggling Bani Yas, who are now just a point deep into the relegation zone behind both Dibba and Emirates, who both lost.
The Arabian Gulf League returns this weekend with games on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Al Ain are away to Emirates and Al Jazira are at home to Al Wahda on the Thursday, before both Al Ain and Al Jazira play each other in a game in hand next Monday.