BANIYAS // Ali Massari scored a late equaliser as second-placed Baniyas twice came from behind to share a point with Al Shabab in a 2-2 draw last night.
While Baniyas were happy not to have lost, the draw cost them ground against league-leaders Al Jazira, who now have a seven-point cushion at the top of the table.
"It was a good comeback for us under the circumstances, so it was a fairly satisfying result, but not a good performance," said Lutfi al Benzarti, the Baniyas coach.
Baniyas were without several of their key players: Fawzi Basheer, their Oman international, and the Emirati internationals Amer Abdulrahman, Theyab Awana, Haboush Saleh and Mohammed Fawzi, because of injury.
"With so many absentees, it was difficult against a team that had strengthened their squad during the break," al Benzarti said. "This is a young team and they showed a lot of character to fight until the end. That's a positive we can take from this game."
He said he will not ruefully pore over the table; like Jazira, Baniyas have never won a league title.
"As I said before, we are not thinking of winning the league," he said. "We will certainly try, but we must be realistic, too. What we are aiming is to finish higher than the fourth-placed finish we achieved last season and we are on course to achieve that."
Massari tapped in a bad fumble from Salem Abdullah, the Shabab goalkeeper, to salvage the draw. Baniyas could have won had Fareed Ismail not fluffed his shot in front of the goalmouth.
Jociel Ferreira, Shabab's Brazilian acquisition in the mid-season transfer period last month, made an immediate impact for the Dubai club. The quality of his delivery from set pieces was key to the goals scored by Essa Mohammed and Essa Obaid either side of half time. Both came from corners.
In the 65th minute, just before Obaid's strike, Ismail had cancelled Shabab's first-half lead with a low shot from outside the area to make it 1-1.
Paulo Bonamigo, Shabab's Brazilian coach, felt they lost out on an opportunity to win three points.
"Losing the lead at the end was a bit hard to swallow," he said.
"But these things keep happening in football. We must take it in the chin and continue to work on the mistakes."
Sharjah late show downs Kalba
Sharjah capitalised on their numerical advantage to score twice in the last 10 minutes and overcome 10-man Kalba 3-1 at home last night and move to fourth in the table.
Sharjah were a goal up at half-time courtesy of Esam al Mansouri, who tapped in a rebound two minutes before the break. Kalba came back strongly to equalise through Mohammed Malallah, a minute after Simon Feindouno – Kalba’s Guinea forward – was sent off in the 75th minute.
Robinho, the Brazilian striker, made it 2-1 from the spot, a penalty he earned himself when he was felled by Abdulkareem Awana. Fahad Hadeed then made the game safe with a minute left when he ran through the entire Kalba defence to score with a superb solo effort.