AL AIN // Andre Senghor failed to find the net for the first time in 12 games this season as an undermanned Baniyas held on to a scoreless away draw with Al Ain in the Etisalat Cup at the Tahnoun bin Mohammed Stadium last night.
The Senegalese forward tops the scoring charts with 14 goals in all competitions, but he never got even a half-chance against Al Ain. The result, however, kept Baniyas in the lead on seven points, two ahead of Al Ain, after three games, in Group A.
The visitors were reduced to 10 men when Hassan Zahran was sent off for a second booking, yet Al Ain failed to make use of the numerical advantage in the last 16 minutes.
Baniyas were lucky when a clearance from Eder, the Brazilian defender, ricocheted off the crossbar of his own goal during added time. And then Faraj Juma's effort was smothered out of play by Saqer Hammadi, the Baniyas defender.
The home side missed an opportunity to open the scoring in the fifth minute. Ibrahima Keita sent Bandar Mohammed down the right. He cut inside the area, but he sent his shot past the far post.
Juma Saeed, the 20-year-old Ivorian forward, delayed a shot from inside the area, allowing Salem Hamad, the Baniyas defender, to make a fine clearance from under his feet.
The first Baniyas chance was a chipped shot from inside the area by Rashed Najem, which Dawoud Sulaiman, the Al Ain goalkeeper, pushed over the crossbar just past the half-hour mark.
Both teams were sluggish, perhaps in part because both were missing several key players who are on national duty with the Olympic team in the Asian Games or preparing for the senior national team's effort in the Gulf Cup in Yemen in two weeks.
Baniyas have five players in the Olympic team and three in the senior team. Also, Fawzi Bashir, their Oman international, is away on international duty. Al Ain are missing eight players, seven in the senior national team and one on duty with the Olympic team.
With mostly second-string teams, a dreary spectacle was not unexpected, but Baniyas would certainly not have been disappointed to return home with a point.
The early matches also ended in stalemates. Al Wahda were held 1-1 by Al Dhafra and Sharjah and Kalbaended scoreless.
It was Wahda's first point in three cup games and they remain rooted to the bottom of Group B. For Dhafra, it was their third draw in as many matches in Group A.