Al Ain survive Hatta scare as Al Nasr down Al Wahda; Al Jazira clip Eagles - GulfToday

Al Ain survive Hatta scare as Al Nasr down Al Wahda; Al Jazira clip Eagles

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Al Wahda and Al Nasr players vie for the ball during their AGL match on Saturday.

Kodjo Laba’s fourth goal of the campaign secured the three points for Al Ain in a 2-1 win against Hatta at Hazza bin Zayed Stadium in Matchweek 4 of the Arabian Gulf League on Saturday.

Al Ain suffered a blow halfway through the opening period as Jamal Maroof was stretched off following a heavy challenge from Cleylton. Mohammed Khalfan was brought on to replace him.

Hatta came close to opening the scoring in two back-to-back occasions. First Abdullah Kazim narrowly missed the target from close range after attempting to take Cristian Lopez’s cross from the right first-time in the 37th minute.

A minute later, Lopez himself was on the receiving end of a cross, and sent it high over the crossbar.  The visitors were punished for their profligacy as they conceded a penalty in the 40th minutes.

Al Ain’s Caio Canedo pounced on a loose ball inside the box and was set to apply the finish when Mahmoud Qassem clattered into him from behind and the referee instantly pointed to the spot.

Canedo stepped up and fired into the bottom corner to break the deadlock and put Al Ain in front three minutes before the break.

Al Ain continued to struggle with injuries as substitute Khalfan had to be taken off just 25 minutes after his introduction. Andrija Radovanovic came on in added time.

Hatta brought the game level in the 66th minute after Ricardo Valente capitalised on a penalty box scrimmage to tap the ball in from inches out.

Ivan Leko’s Al Ain took the lead again as Canedo turned from scorer to provider, setting Laba with a pinpoint cross from the right flank and the Togolese striker guided it home with a diving header to win it for the Boss with eight minutes to go.  

Bandar Al Ahbabi nearly made it three, curling beautifully from a 35-yard free kick, but his attempt cannonced off the crossbar.

The result sends Al Ain up to the top three with nine points from four matches, while Hatta freeze at four points from as many games.

Meanwhile, Al Nasr registered their first league victory as they came back from behind to defeat Al Wahda 3-1 at Al Nahyan Stadium.

The game started at a slow pace, as plenty of the gameplay was limited to the middle of the pitch. In the 35th minute, Al Wahda were awarded a penalty kick after Sebastian Tagliabue was pulled down inside the box by Mohamed Ayed. Carlitos sent the ball home from the spot to make it 1-0.

The Blues responded immediately, as they nearly leveled things up in the 38th minute, however, Mohamed Al Shamsi pulled off an excellent double save to deny Mahmoud Khamis and Alvaro Negredo’s efforts. Negredo was once again at heart of attack for the Blues, scoring the equaliser just one minute after the restart. The Spaniard converted Brandley Kuwas’s left footed in-swinging cross with a towering header.

Al Nasr completed their comeback in the 75th minute, when Kuwas and Negredo combined cleverly once again. The Curacao international winger found Negredo with a defence splitting cross that the forward finished with a powerful diving header.

In the dying moment of the game, Habib Al Fardan went on a one-on-one situation with the goalkeeper after a well-built counter attack thanks to a third Kuwas assist. The super sub’s finish crept past Al Shamsi and into the back of the net to make it 3-1.

The impressive victory took Al Nasr to the ninth spot with four points.

Elsewhere, Shabab Al Ahli extended their unbeaten run as they defeated Bani Yas 2-0.

Bani Yas were first to threaten Shabab Al Ahli, when Joao Wesner sent an accurate cross towards Pedro Conde whose headed effort went just wide off the left post in the 15th minute.

The Sky Blues continued to dominate and in the 22nd minute Khaled Al Dhanhani went up the right flank and found Suhail Al Noobi near the edge of the box. The number 18’s strike was deflected by Conde’s header that cannoned off the post.

Leonardo de Sousa opened the scoring for the hosts in the 38th minute, when he received the ball in a dangerous zone and dribbled past Wesner before smashing it into the top corner.

One minute before the halftime whistle, Davide Mariani doubled Shabab Al Ahli’s lead as he latched onto the rebound and finished it with a brilliant first time volley after Mohammad Eid’s initial effort was blocked by  Fahad Al Dhanhani.

The hosts wanted to secure the full points in the second half, however, Ahmed Khalil’s powerful freekick effort was parried away by Al Dhanhani in the 67th minute.

After the win, Shabab Al Ahli temporarily top the league table with 10 points and will face Al Nasr next week.

Separately, Marcel Keizer’s second spell in charge of Al Jazira started brightly as the Pride of Abu Dhabi brushed aside newly promoted Khorfakkan 3-1 at the latter’s temporary home of Kalba Union Sports & Cultural Club Stadium.

After a cautious start, Al Jazira took the lead through young international centre-back Khalifa Al Hammadi who opened his account for the campaign in the 17th minute.