DUBAI // Al Jazira have been a bit like Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde this season, more Hyde than Jekyll, actually, but last night they finally looked like the team that many picked as a top contender for the Arabian Gulf League title.
Beaten 3-2 at home by Al Wasl last week after being reduced to nine men, the Abu Dhabi powerhouses redeemed themselves with a flowing 4-2 win at the Al Shabab, a team sitting atop the league table before the game.
Ali Mabkhout was the Jazira hero with two goals, but he did not finish the game, picking up a straight red in the 86th minute for a spike-up slide into Hassan Ibrahim.
While that send-off did sour things a bit for Jazira, coach Luis Milla was pleased how things turned around after conceding in the sixth minute, despite the absence of two of their foreign players – suspended Shin Hyung-min and the injured Nelson Valdez.
“When you start a season, you try to improve game by game, and as a coach, we want a good win so the team gets more confidence to keep improving,” Milla said.
“And we have done that today against a very good team, which was top of the table. “This should give us the confidence to keep moving forward and we hope we will continue like this in the upcoming games.”
Jazira seemed to be headed for another disappointing night as Shabab took an early lead. Adeilson had Salem Masoud to thank for his opening goal: Abdullah Farraj’s cross had come straight at him, but the Jazira right-back allowed the ball to slip through his legs and the Brazilian made good use of the opportunity.
Ricardo Oliveira chested Salim Ali’s cross back for Abdelaziz Barrada and the Moroccan placed it home to perfection.
Five minutes into the second half, the visitors were up 2-1 as Ali Mabkhout finished with a stinging left-footer from the top of the box. Mabkhout added his second in the 77th minute, through the legs of the Shabab keeper Ismail Rabea; Barrada also got his second, in the 82nd minute.
SHARJAH PUSH AJMAN TO THE BOTTOM
Goals from Ze Carlos and Ahmed Khamis on either side of half time allowed Sharjah to defeat Ajman 2-1 at the Sheikh Rashid bin Zayed Stadium last night. Yousef Al Sulaiman pulled one back for the home side, but it proved too little too late as Ajman finished winless in three games and moved to the bottom of table. Sharjah leapfrogged over Baniyas into fourth place, but have played a game extra.