x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Ain's title hopes take a knock

Al Ain, one of three clubs still in with a chance of winning the Pro League title, failed to break down a determined Al Shabab defence at the Maktoum Stadium.

DUBAI // Al Ain, one of three clubs still in with a chance of winning the Pro League title, failed to break down a determined Al Shabab defence at the Maktoum Stadium. Though goalless, the game rarely had a dull moment with the action beginning as early as the third minute when Shabab's Ali Mohammed Rashid, following up a swift counter, hit the right upright. Mehrdad Oladi troubled the visitors with his nifty footwork and a superb cross in the 15th minute almost resulted in a goal, but Mohammed Nasser failed to beat keeper Motaz Abdullah.

Three minutes later Saif Mohammed came dangerously close at the other end, his left-footer curling narrowly wide. The visitors, however, gained the upper hand in the second half with Andre Dias first testing Shabab keeper Ismael Rabea with a header in the 59th minute and then, seconds later, firing in a shot that Rabea did well to punch away for a corner. Three minutes later, Rabea again came to Shabab's rescue, blocking Salem's volley from the top of the box. The keeper was beaten in the 81st minute, but Fares Juma's header was disallowed as he was off-side.

In the other games, Walid Murad got Al Wasl to a dream start at Al Khaleej with a third- minute strike. The hosts, however, struck twice in successive minutes - 60th and 61st - to clinch the honours. At Ajman, Nawaf Mubarak put Sharjah ahead with a trade-mark free kick in the in the 37th minute. Javad Kazemian equalised in the 72nd minute, but Salem Saif's 80th-minute winner condemned Ajman to their fourth consecutive defeat since the restart of the Pro League.

There are two games in the Pro League today. Al Wahda host Al Shaab while Al Dhafra visit Al Nasr. arizvi@thenational.ae