Goals by Jakson Coelho, Grafite and Faisal Khalil settle deal for Al Ahli after in-form Al Shabab are beaten at home on Saturday night.
Abdullah's presence in goal denies Shabab on Ahli's night
DUBAI // A resurgent Al Ahli, with two second-half goals, brought Al Shabab's winning start in the Etisalat Cup to an end Saturday night with a 3-1 away win.
A stunning Carlos Villanueva goal, worth travelling miles to see, had given Shabab, winners of their first two Cup games, a 14th-minute lead, but a strong performance by Yousuf Abdullah in the Ahli goal denied them any further scoring.
Jakson Coelho equalised in the 59th minute, Grafite converted a penalty in the 66th and Faisal Khalil came off the bench to score the third, giving Ahli their first three points of the season after the loss at Ajman and the draw against Sharjah.
The visitors, however, finished the game with nine men after Ali Hussain picked up his second booking of the night in the 89th minute.
Khalid Mohammed met the same fate in added time.
One of Dubai's two derby contests, the match was played at a feverish pace, with Ciel testing Abdullah within the opening seconds.
The Ahli custodian had no chance in the 14th minute as Villanueva expertly floated the ball over him from 35 yards out.
The goal took nothing away from Abdullah's performance on the night. If not for his brilliant work, the home side would have taken a 3-0 lead into the break.
The keeper showed great anticipation in keeping Ciel's free-kick out in the 29th minute. Four minutes later, he dived to his left to deny Julio Cesar after the Brazilian had sneaked in to pinch a misdirected Mohammed header.
Mohammed made amends in the dying moments of the first half, clearing Ciel's attempt off the line after the Brazilian had squeezed it past the keeper.
Shabab, however, failed to keep the momentum going after the break and Coelho headed home the equaliser off an Adelaziz Haikal free-kick in the 59th minute.
Four minutes later, Majed Hassan earned a penalty for Ahli and Grafite, showing no ill effects from a foot injury sustained the previous weekend, stepped up to convert from the spot.
Khalil then stole the ball from Sami Anbar's feet in the 82nd minute and placed it past the stranded Shabab keeper.