ABU DHABI // For the second time this season, the capital city's derby between Al Wahda and Al Jazira ended in stalemate, setting up an intriguing third encounter when they clash in the final of the President's Cup final in a fortnight.
In an action-packed clash at the Al Nahyan stadium, the 9,463 crowd saw Wahda take the lead against the Pro League pacesetters only to find themselves 2-1 behind after 74 minutes. But they were only trailing for 60 seconds as Ismail Matar salvaged a deserved point for the home side with a 75th-minute header.
The result extended Jazira's unbeaten run to 22 matches, stretching back to February last year. They still top the league table on 36 points while Wahda are on 19 and still languishing in seventh.
After a goalless first 45 minutes, Jazira began the second half strongly and could have taken an early lead had Ricardo Oliveira's effort not crashed against the crossbar.
They were still lamenting that missed opportunity when Wahda broke the deadlock on 49 minutes.
After a move that started inside their own half, Fernando Baiano, the Brazilian striker, tapped the ball towards Mohammed al Shehhi, who worked his way inside the area before unleashing a stunning shot that whistled into the back of the net.
Jazira pressed hard for the equalizer and twice tested Adel al Hosani, the Al Wahda goalkeeper, who blocked Ibrahim Diaky's effort and later clung on to a low shot from Oliveira.
In between times, Kasheif did well to prevent Hugo, the Brazilian midfielder, from stretching their lead with a good stop from a powerfully struck shot from the edge of the box.
Jazira got back on level terms when Bare collected a superb through pass from Matias Delgado, the Argentine midfielder, and got past Eisa Ahmed to dispatch it past al Hosani with aplomb.
Ten minutes later and Jazira were dreaming of their 12th win of the season. In fact, they were probably still celebrating when Matar headed in a cross from Mahmoud Khamis, the second half substitute, just a minute later.
And Wahda almost snatched a dramatic winner three minutes from time when al Shehhi, who had a fine game, saw his header spectacularly clawed off the goalline by Abdulsalam Jumaa.
It was al Shehhi who had the first scoring opportunity of the night but his header sailed way over the crossbar off a long ball from Eisa Ahmed.
Jazira were missing a vital cog in midfield, as Subait Khater was suspended. His former Al Ain teammate Helal Saeed filled that void but nearly marked his start by conceding an early goal; a weak clearance was seized on by al Shehhi, who advanced inside the area but shot straight at Ali Kasheif, the Jazira goalkeeper, who pushed the ball out of play.
Kasheif later did well to block a swerving shot from the edge of the box from Baiano in a first half that belonged to Wahda.