Al Shabab made a significant move up the Pro League ladder after a resounding 3-1 away victory over Al Wasl last night.
Julio Cesar, the Brazilian forward, opened the scoring nine minutes into the second half and Carlos Villanueva, the Chile midfielder, scored twice within six minutes to carry them to their third win in the past four games.
The result took Shabab's Pro League tally to 27 points and slashed their deficit behind second-place Baniyas to three points.
Al Jazira, who took their unbeaten run in the league to 24 games since February 2010 after a 1-1 draw with Baniyas, top the league on 40 points.
Julio Cesar broke down Wasl's resistance when he slammed home a rebound that fell in his path after the goalkeeper Majed Naser blocked a powerful shot from Walid Abbas, the Shabab defender, who had moved up for a corner.
Villanueva blasted a powerful left-footer from 25 yards for his first and then dribbled past a couple of defenders before chipping the ball over Naser from outside the top edge of the box for a spectacular second goal.
The South American teammates took their league tally to seven goals. Shabab were the more creative and the team that could have scored in the first half. Yet they couldn't get the ball past Naser, who twice denied Julio Cesar from ticking the scoreboard.
The UAE international stuck out his leg to block a close-range shot from Julio Cesar in the 40th minute and did well to go down in a full stretch to his left to push out a low shot from just outside the box a minute into added time of the first half.
Naser had earlier blocked a stinging shot from the Brazilian and held on to a low shot from Jociel Ferreira. In between, Jociel was wide with a low shot after Eisa Obaid had back-heeled a pass towards him outside the top edge of the box. Naser was in action again five minutes after the resumption, holding on to a deft touch from eight yards by Abbas from an ensuing pass off a corner from Villanueva.
Francesco Yeste had a chance to score a consolation goal, but his effort from inside the area was blocked by Mohammed al Tamimi, the new Shabab goalkeeper.
But Shabab could not deny Yeste a goal. The Spaniard converted a penalty he himself earned when Abbas felled him. It was his 10th league goal. Wasl ended with 10 players when Ali Mahmoud was red-carded for kicking a Shabab player.
Mohammed Nasser, who came on with two minutes left, could have scored with his first touch had he connected with a cross from Ali Mohammed headed towards him by Obaid.
* Compiled by Amith Passela