Al Ain survive Kalba scare as Fujairah edge past Al Wahda; Sharjah win - GulfToday

Al Ain survive Kalba scare as Fujairah edge past Al Wahda; Sharjah win

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Players of Sharjah and Khor Fakkan fight for the ball during their Arabian Gulf League match at the Sharjah Stadium on Thursday.

Saeed Juma’s late strike secured a hard-fought 3-2 victory for Al Ain against Ittihad Kalba at Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium in the opening matchweek of the Arabian Gulf League season on Friday.

The game started with a bang, when Laba Kodjo broke the deadlock for the Boss in the eighth minute. The new signing converted ِAbderrahmane Meziane’s well-placed cross with a powerful header into the bottom corner.

The Tigers responded quickly through Peniel Mlapa, who finished Balazs Dzsudzsak’s crossed corner kick with a towering header to level things up in the 19th minute.

Al Ain controlled the majority of possession in the remaining minutes, but failed to create any dangerous chances until the referee blew the halftime whistle.

The hosts restored their lead only nine minutes after the restart. Kodjo turned from scorer to producer, when he sent an in-swinging cross towards Jamal Maroof, whose right-footed volley went past Yousif Abdalla.

In the 83rd minute, Yaseen Bakheet advanced up the left flank and cut inside before squaring the ball towards Mlapa. The German smashed the ball into the top corner to net his second goal of the night

As the game seemed to be headed for a share of spoils, the Boss netted a late winner to get the three points.

In the sixth minute of stoppage time, Tsukasa Shiotani sent a strong low cross inside the box after a brilliant effort. Juma converted with a clever first-time shot that left Abdalla helpless after it deflected off the Kalba defender.

Al Ain sit fourth with three points and will face Al Wasl next week. Meanwhile, Kalba sit tenth on zero points and will face Sharjah.

Elsewhere, A late goal from Abdullah Saleh gave Fujairah a 1-0 win at home over Al Wahda.

The game got off to a quiet start with very few chances being created on both sides of the field.

Three minutes before the break, Al Wahda missed a golden chance to take the lead after a number of consecutive efforts were either saved by keeper Abdullah Ismail or hit the bar.

Five minutes after the restart, Al Wahda’s Sebastian Tagliabue came close to breaking the deadlock but his header was brilliantly saved by Ismail.

The home side had another chance just after the one-hour mark but Tagliabue failed to find the back of the net as he was denied again by on rushing Al Ismail.

The Clarets chances kept coming as Al Hussain Saleh’s effort from inside the box cannoned off the woodwork in the 66th minute.   

Twelve minutes from time, Tagliabue missed yet another chance after he failed to finish in the open net following an inch-perfect cross from Mohammed Barqesh.  

Against the run of the play, Fujairah took the lead in the 82nd minute, thanks to a goal from Abdullah Saleh. After Jhonnattann Benites’ initial effort was saved by Al Wahda keeper Al Mohamed Al Shamsi, the Brazilian passed the rebound to Saleh, who curled the ball into the back of the net to put his side 1-0 up.  

Fujairah are now in fifth place on three points, while Al Wahda sit 11th with no points.

Meanwhile, reigning champions Sharjah registered their first win of the new season as they defeated Khor Fakkan 2-0 at Sharjah Stadium on Thursday.

After a quiet start to the game, the first real chance fell to the newly promoted side around the quarter-hour mark. A flying header by Abdulazeiz Esmaeil off a corner kick missed the target by a narrow margin.

The King responded quickly and firmly. Just three minutes later, they were 1-0 up. Igor Coronado went up the right wing and sent a well-placed cross towards Ryan Mendes, whose powerful header went past Mohamed Yousef.

Ten minutes before the halftime whistle, Bismark Ferreira got at the end of a loose ball near the edge of the box, however, his right-footed drilled strike went just wide near the post.

The hosts looked determined to double their lead in the second half and they got what they worked for in the 67th minute.