AL SHAMKAH // Al Ain rubberstamped their status as the league's elite team as goals from Jires Kembo Ekoko, Alex Brosque and an effort in time added on from the league's lead scorer Asamoah Gyan saw them beat Baniyas 3-0 in their top of the table clash.
The three points took them six clear of their opponents and third-placed Al Nasr, who were held to a 1-1 draw by Ajman last night.
It was a dominant performance from the Pro League champions. They took control of proceedings early on and Baniyas never came close to matching their rivals in any department over the 90 minutes.
Andre Senghor, Baniyas' Senegalese striker, perhaps summed up how his team's night would pan out when, after showing initial good chest control with a high ball, blasted his effort in the first half way over the bar.
He also failed to convincingly test Dawoud Sulaiman, the Al Ain goalkeeper, with a tame header later on.
The opener came with just 10 minutes on the clock. Kembo Ekoko took advantage as the Baniyas defence failed to adequately clear the danger after Brosque's shot was cleared off the line by Mohammed Jaber.
The defenders had several more chances to clear the ball before it fell to the Congolese international on the edge of the box and the midfielder picked his spot expertly, avoiding the crowded goalmouth and placing the ball into the top corner.
Gyan, the Ghana striker, had a golden opportunity to double the lead. Helal Saeed rolled the ball towards Omar Abdulrahman, who in turn deceived the defender in front of him to set up Gyan one on one with Mohammed Ghuloom, the Baniyas goalkeeper, but to everyone's surprise, the ball sailed wide. It mattered little at the end though.
Brosque, the Australia midfielder, scored his sixth goal since joining the club when he worked his way into the Baniyas penalty area after collecting a pass from Radoi and unleashed a low shot past Ghuloom two minutes in to the second half.
Cosmin Olaroiu, the Al Ain coach, took advantage of his team's dominance and Baniyas' bluntness in attack by utilising his bench, substituting Kembo Ekoko and Omar Abdulrahman, with one eye perhaps on next week's match - away to Al Wahda.
Gyan completed the routine victory with a stinging 25-yard shot for his 19th league goal of the campaign two minutes into injury time.
Al Shaab 2 Al Jazira 3
Al Shaab Silva 23’, 30’
Al Jazira Mabkhout 33’, Oliveira 63’, Mousa 75’
Red card Shin (Jazira)
Al Jazira battled back from two goals down to beat Al Shaab, taking their tally to 21 points. Rodrigo Souza Silva struck twice in seven minutes to give Shaab a 2-0 lead on 30 minutes. But Ali Mabkhout’s goal and a stunning 30-yard effort from Riccardo Oliveira levelled the scores before Abdulla Mousa netted the winner.
Al Wahda 3 Al Dhafra 0
Al Wahda Waigo 11’, Oliveira 52’, Al Kathiri 86’
Al Wahda arrested their three-game losing streak with a 3-0 home victory over Al Dhafra. Papa Waigo, the Senegalese forward, gave Wahda a 10th-minute lead with a spectacular volley. Marcelo Oliveira, the Brazilian, doubled their lead six minutes into the second half and Saeed Al Kathiri tapped in a corner four minutes from time to complete the rout. The clean sheet will please coach Branko Ivankovic, who has seen his side concede 14 goals in their previous three defeats.
Al Nasr 1 Ajman 1
Al Nasr Basheer 45’+1,
Ajman Ahmed 32’
Al Nasr missed an opportunity to put some distance between them and Baniyas in the chase of Al Ain after being held to a draw by Ajman. The home side took the lead in the 32nd minute through Humaid Ahmed, but Nasr were able to equalise just before half time through Saleh Basheer. In what is fast becoming a battle for second place, Nasr will hope to make the most of next week’s clash with Al Dhafra, as Al Jazira and Baniyas meet in a capital derby.