Sio nets brace as Kalba dent Al Ain hopes of top-3 finish - GulfToday

Sio nets brace as Kalba dent Al Ain hopes of top-3 finish

Ain

Players of Ittihad Kalba and Al Ain in action during their Arabian Gulf League match at Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium on Wednesday.

Giovanni Sio netted a brace as Ittihad Kalba played out a 2-2 draw with Al Ain at Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium in the opening game of matchweek 23 of the Arabian Gulf League on Wednesday.

The game got off to a fiery start as the guests found themselves 1-0 up after only two minutes. Sio opened the scoring from his first attempt on goal. The Ivorian forward headed Balazs Dzsudzsak cross into the left corner of the net to give the guests an early lead.

The Tigers’ lead however didn’t last long as the Boss leveled the scoreline only five minutes later. The home side were awarded a penalty but Tsukasa Shiotani’s effort was initially saved by Kalba keeper Jamal Alsarah, but Bandar AlAhbabi latched onto the rebound to level the scoreline.

Al Ain went on to complete their comeback as Mohamed Khalfan put them 2-1 up in the 16th minute. Capitalizing on a defensive mistake, Khalfan found the ball inside the box to head home and give his side the lead.  

Five minutes before the break, Kalba wasted a golden chance to net the equalizer as Yaqoub Alblooshi found the ball inside the box before sending his effort wide.

As the first half seemed to be headed for a 2-1 lead for the hosts, Giovanni Sio scored his second of the night to guide his side to a 2-2 draw into the break. The Ivorian found Dawood Albloushi’s cross inside the box before sending an excellent header into the back of the net.

Sio had a number of chances in the early stages of the second half to give his side the lead but his efforts were saved by Al Ain keeper Mohammed Busanda.

Marcus Berg also wasted a chance to regain Al Ain’s lead as his 62nd-minute effort was too weak to pose danger on Kalba’s goal.

After failing to get a win for the fifth game in a row, Al Ain reached the 40-point mark but remained in fourth place. Kalba are now 11th on 24 points.

The Boss are fighting for a top three spot that would secure their qualification to next season’s AFC Asian Champions League.

They are, however, facing tough competition from Al Wahda and Bani Yas who sit fifth and sixth, respectively.

Al Ain have failed to get a win in their past five league games as they lost three and drew one, while scoring three goals and conceding 13.

Sharjah are on top of the table despite being held by Al Jazira in the previous round.

Despite edging closer to the title, Sharjah failed to get the three points for the second game in a row, as they drew with Ajman 2-2 and Kalba 1-1, respectively.

Shabab Al Ahli are on second spot after reducing the gap with the leaders to eight points after beating Emirates Club 5-1 last week.

Meanwhile, Al Ain star Berg expects to leave the defending champions at the end of this season as the striker weighs up options for the next step in his career.

The Swedish international has only a few months remaining on his two-year contract and, even though the original deal includes a clause to renew, he will almost certainly move on this summer, reported by Swedish media.

Signed in June 2017 from Greek side Panathinaikos, Berg finished his first season as the Arabian Gulf League’s top scorer. His 36 goals in 36 matches in all competitions fired Al Ain to a first league and President’s Cup double in their history.

Reports in Sweden earlier this week claimed Berg was close to a return to IFK Gothenburg, the club with which he began his profession career.

Berg was Sweden’s main striker during the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualification after the retirement of Zlatan Ibrahimovic

He scored his first goal in the qualifiers in 2016, the opener of the 1–1 home draw against Netherlands.