Ali Mabkhout celebrated his call-up to the national team by scoring twice to lead Al Jazira to a 3-1 victory over Sharjah in the Etisalat Cup at the Dubai Sports Club stadium last night.
Mabkhout will join the senior team today as they fly to Yemen for the 20th Gulf Cup. He is an 11th-hour replacement for the unwell Saif Mohammed, and national coach Srecko Katenec could hardly have picked a more in-form player. Mabhkout has scored in three consecutive games and is among the leading scorers in the tournament.
Mabkhout volleyed a long ball from inside the area for a third-minute lead and then regained a two-goal cushion 10 minutes into the second half.
Matias Delgado, the Argentine midfielder, curled in a shot from the left edge of the box to double Al Jazira's lead in the 17th minute before Sharjah pulled one back on the half hour.
Humaid Ahmed found the net in his second attempt when tapping the ball home on the rebound after hitting the post with a header.
With the victory, Jazira took their tally to seven points to join Al Shabab at the top of Group B, and ahead on goal difference.
Jazira could have put the game to safety, but Yaser Matar's powerfully struck shot was pushed out by an alert Jassim Mohammed Hassan, the Sharjah goalkeeper.
Abel Braga, the Jazira coach, would have also been pleased to see Rashid Abdulrahman, the central defender, and Abdulsalam Jumaa, the midfielder, both returning from injuries for their first appearances for the season in the first team line-up.
Elsewhere, Juma Saeed scored twice as Al Ain emerged 3-1 away winners over Al Dhafra to take their tally to eight points and go top of Group A.
Toufeeq Abdulrazzaq cancelled Al Ain's lead just before the break only for Abdullah al Ameri to regain it past the hour.
Kalba picked up their fourth point from four games after holding Al Wasl scoreless in Group B.