x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Al Ain beat Inter Milan and now UAE on penalties in youth festival

The hosts came back from 3-1 down to force extra time and triumph on penalties against the UAE Under 17 side.

The UAE, in red, and Al Ain played out a 3-3 draw at Khalifa bin Zayed Stadium yesterday, before Al Ain won 6-5 in a penalty shootout.
The UAE, in red, and Al Ain played out a 3-3 draw at Khalifa bin Zayed Stadium yesterday, before Al Ain won 6-5 in a penalty shootout.

AL AIN // Yousuf Ahmed inspired a stunning fightback as Al Ain's youth team overcame a two-goal deficit to beat the national Under 17 side on penalties last night.

Ahmed scored two late goals in a 3-3 draw in the Al Ain International Football Juniors Championship and the hosts went on to win the shoot-out 6-5.

"The players showed real character to come from two goals down and win the game for us," Abdul Ali Changis, the Al Ain assistant coach, said.

"The good thing about this team is they never give up.

"It is never easy to come back from two goals down late in the game.

"To play games every other day is a bit taxing on the young players and for that reason we try to provide the opportunities for as many players as possible."

Al Ain are the defending champions in a tournament that also involves youngsters from the academies at England's Manchester City, Valencia of Spain and Italy's Inter Milan.

Saeed Alrawahe put Al Ain ahead in the 16th minute at the Khalifa bin Zayed Stadium but Ahmed Rabee levelled the scores just after the half-hour mark when he tapped in a short cross from Mohsen Abdulla.

Khalid Abdulrahman and Khalfan Mubarak made it 3-1 for the UAE youngsters 10 minutes into the second half before Ahmed's strikes in the 76th and 80th minutes.

"We were playing two games in two days and the players got a bit tired towards the end," Khalifa Mubarak, the UAE coach, said.

"We conceded two late goals because of individual mistakes and it was anybody's game when it went to a penalty shoot-out.

"The Al Ain goalkeeper [Sultan Mohammed] who plays for the UAE national team had a good game by saving two spot kicks."

The UAE juniors are preparing for the U17 Gulf Cup in Kuwait in September and Mubarak said the competition was good experience for his players.

"Al Ain are fielding players born in 1994 and above while we have players born in 1995," Mubarak said.

"They had some advantage but that works well for us to play against stronger oppositions."

Al Ain are top of the U17 domestic league and are in the last eight in the cup competition. Manchester Cityjoined the host team at the top of the five-team league after a 2-1 win over Valencia in the second game in the Garden City last night.

Jordy Mayifuila gave City a fifth-minute lead but Luis Gilabert equalised four minutes later. Courtney Meppen restored the English team's advantage in the 20th minute with what proved to be the winning goal.

apassela@thenational.ae

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