AL AIN // Fares Juma turned out to be a super sub for Al Ain as the defender headed the winner in the last second of added time to guide the Garden City Club to a dramatic 3-2 victory over Al Nasr.
Juma headed Omar Abdulrahman’s free kick from the right flank into the back of the net to send the Al Ain fans into a frenzy last night at the Tahnoun bin Mohammed Stadium.
“I must congratulate the players,” said Quique Sanchez Flores, the Al Ain coach. “They fought until the very end to win the three points. They showed real character and this is the spirit I want to see in them in all games.
“We made it difficult for ourselves with too many mistakes. We missed a lot of scoring opportunities and also mistakes at the back that nearly cost us the three points.”
The result left the two coaches at opposite ends of the emotional spectrum.
Nasr’s Ivan Jovanovic said: “I am really disappointed. … All that effort ended for us in frustration.”
Sanchez Flores said: “It was a feeling of joy, of course. It is feeling that any coach would like to experience.”
Asamoah Gyan put the home side ahead only for Ibrahima Toure to cancel it early in the second half. Abdulrahman regained the lead and Nasr hit back through Eder Luis.
And when it looked like Nasr had done enough to leave with a point, Juma struck, six minutes after he came on to the pitch for Mohammed Ahmed.
Asked about the substitution, Sanchez Flores said: “We wanted to bring in fresh legs. It so happened that Fares scored from a set piece. You never anticipate such things to happen but it worked for us on the night.”
The result took Al Ain’s tally to 10 points and fourth in the table. They are eight behind the runaway leaders Al Ahli after six rounds.
After a lacklustre opening 20 minutes the game sprang to life when Yousuf Abdullah, the Nasr goalkeeper, brought off two excellent saves as he was tested twice in succession by Alex Brosque and Gyan.
He blocked Brosque’s 30-yard shot and recovered quickly to stop Gyan’s close-range effort on the loose ball.
Abdullah’s heroics did not continue unchecked, fortunately for Al Ain.
Rashid Mallallah brought down Brosque with a clumsy tackle and Gyan stepped forward to score from the spot for the home side to go to the break with a 1-0 lead.
Nasr came back strongly in the second half to cancel out Al Ain’s lead.
Toure picked up a lobbed pass from Habib Fardan from the middle of the pitch and neatly chipped the ball over the charging keeper, Dawoud Sulaiman, to set the tempo for the remainder of the game.
Abdullah made another fine save when he dived to push out Abdulrahman’s effort from 30 yards.
However, he failed to judge a long ball from the “Golden Boy” of UAE football.
Abdulrahman’s effort deep from the right flank dipped inches away from Gyan’s lunging effort in front of the goalmouth to crash into the net as Al Ain regained the lead.
Not for long, though. Toure sent a through pass to Luis and the Brazilian got past the two Al Ain defenders to drill the ball past a helpless Sulaiman.
But all Nasr’s efforts ended in frustration as Juma sealed the win in the 94th minute.
“Congratulations to Al Ain,” Nasr’s Jovanovic said. “We have to put this result behind us.”
Al Wasl 2 Al Dhafra 1
Al Wasl: Naser 55’, 67’
Al Dhafra: Chafni 05’
Mohammed Naser’s two goals, each set up by Mariano Donda, produced a first victory for the interim Wasl coach Saleem Abdelrahman and moved the Dubai side into the upper half of the league table, on nine points. Kamel Chafni, the Moroccan midfielder, had put the visitors ahead until the early second half before Naser struck in the space of 12 minutes.
Emirates 5 Al Shaab 2
Emirates: Essa Ali 01’, Jair 18’, 90’, Silva 43’, Herrera 90+4’
Al Shaab: Ndri 34’, S Marzouq 53’
Red card: J Marzouq (Al Shaab)
The South American trio of Jair, Rodrigo Silva and German Herrera contributed four goals as Emirates broke open a close game and moved out of the relegation zone. Shaab are alone at the foot of the table, on three points. Two Emirates goals came after Juma Marzouq was sent off with his second yellow card.
Al Shabab 3 Ajman 1
Al Shabab: Bruno 25’, 79’, Adeilson 51’
Ajman: Kabi 14’
Ajman flattered to deceive one more time as they gave up an early lead to end up on the losing side and rooted in the danger zone. Boris Kabi scored his sixth goal of the season to put Ajman ahead but Edgar Bruno responded with an equaliser for the Dubai club nine minutes later. The Brazilian Adeilson found the mark soon after the break to put Shabab in the lead before Bruno pierced through the defence for his second.
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