Dubai: Last year’s runners-up Shabab Al Ahli Dubai were the only victors, while the remaining three matches ended in stalemates heading into the return leg of the Arabian Gulf Cup quarter-finals, held over the weekend.
Shabab Al Ahli nearly assured themselves a place in the last four with a well-deserved 4-2 away win against Khor Fakkan, while defending champions Al Nasr were held to a 1-1 draw at home by Fujairah. Bani Yas and Kalba also played out an identical 1-1 draw in Abu Dhabi, while Sharjah and Al Wasl played out a goalless draw in Sharjah, late on Friday.
It was a valuable win for Shabab Al Ahli Dubai at the Saqr Bin Mohammad Al Qassimi Stadium as they surged clear early in 12th minute when Ahmad Al Attas connected a perfect pass from Carlos Eduardo. Seven minutes later the men in red doubled their score when Heldon Ramos headed the ball past the Khor Fakkan goalkeeper.
Carlos Eduardo then turned from provider to scorer in the 42nd minute, as his header nestled into the far corner for the guests trooped in for the break with a comfortable 3-0 cushion.
In the second half, Shabab Al Ahli Dubai were reduced to ten men following a straight red card on winger Abdul Aziz Haikal in the 67th minute.
Khor Fakkan dug in and were rewarded with a goal in the 80th minute when a long-range effort from Bruno Lamas left the Shabab Al Ahli Dubai goalkeeper out of position.
Defender Mohammad Marzooq then mistakenly scored an own goal three minutes later to make it 3-2 and bring the hosts right back into the match.
However, Federico Cartabia scored an 88th minute penalty to calm down the visitors and return with a crucial win before the two teams meet again in the return leg on January 25.
Meanwhile, in Dubai, it looked like the defending champions were all set for a big score when Toze scored an opportunistic goal in the very second minute following a defensive error. But, Fujairah showed great maturity as the match progressed and got the equaliser seven minutes into the second session when Firas Ben Larbi played a one-two for Kristiano Armenteros to tap in.
Al Nasr will next travel to Fujairah for the return leg on January 25.
Al Wasl had rival goalkeeper Darwish Mohammad standing tall for the hosts as they settled for a goalless draw in Sharjah. Darwish Mohammad pulled off two fine saves to deny Waleed Al Hammadi and Haboush Saleh in they dying minutes of the game to keep the encounter alive when the two teams engage in the return leg in Dubai on January 26.
Arabian Gulf Cup quarter-finals, first leg
Khor Fakkan 2 Shabab Al Ahli Dubai 4
Al Nasr 1 Fujairah 1
Bani Yas 1 Kalba 1
Sharjah 0 Al Wasl