x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Al Jazira 2 Al Ain 2

Al Jazira come alive in the second half to earn a draw with Al Ain and keep their rivals from going to the top of the table, writes Amith Passela.

Ricardo Oliveira's goal completed Al Jazira's fight back as a strong second half earned the hosts a 2-2 draw against Al Ain.
Ricardo Oliveira's goal completed Al Jazira's fight back as a strong second half earned the hosts a 2-2 draw against Al Ain.

ABU DHABI // Al Jazira fought back from two goals down to salvage a face-saving 2-2 draw and deny Al Ain a fourth consecutive win in the Pro League and a place at the top of the table.

Asamoah Gyan scored from the spot to give the visitors the lead just before half-time and Jires Kembo Ekoko added the second after the break.

But Abdulla Mousa and Ricardo Oliveira scored within 14 minutes to earn a share of the points in front of almost 20,000 fans last night at the Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium.

The opener came in added time at the end of the first half when Ekoko went down after the faintest of touches from Salem Masoud, the Jazira defender, to earn the visitors a penalty.

Gyan made no mistake from the spot as he shot into the corner of the net.

Jazira started the second half brightly and Oliveira put the visitors under pressure twice in the first five minutes after the break.

But Ekoko scored a breakaway goal when he collected a long ball on a counterattack to fire it into the far corner of the net.

Al Ain were the more enterprising and creative side yet with all their inventive play they failed to strike a serious blow at the Jazira goal, apart from a Ekoko effort that crashed against the near post.

Omar Abdulrahman set the ball moving and found Alex Brosque in the middle, who in return did well to slip in a pass towards Ekoko.

Al Ain had a few chances with Gyan off target with a ball that deflected off Mousa and fell into his path. Abdulrahman's was wide with a header and later sent a free kick taken from the just outside the box over the bar.

Jazira on the other hand did well to spoil the visitor's moves and their defence kept the Al Ain forward's in check, leaving little room for them to venture in to the box.

Mousa kept the game alive when he pulled a goal back with a splendid low shot in the 60th minute after collecting a through pass from Ibrahim Diaky and Oliveira levelled the scores 14 minutes later to leave the crowd on the edge of their seats in the final quarter.

Matias Delgado came in as a second half substitute for Yaser Matar and it was his clever lobbed past that led to the equaliser.

Oliveira timed his run to perfection to fire home from point blank.

The Al Ain line-up looked impressive with Gyan and Brosque spearheading the attack supported by Ekoko and Omar Abdulrahman on the flanks and Mirel Radoi and Helal Saeed in the middle.

But after a first half full of promise and taking a 2-0 lead in the 50th minute Al Ain suddenly lost their way.

It was similar performance to their opening game of the season against Al Ahli when they allowed a 3-1 half-time to slip away as the Dubai club to scored five in the second hand to claim a 6-3 victory.

Paulo Bonamigo, the under-fire Jazira coach, can take some solace from the result.

The Brazilian celebrated the second goal on the touchline as they had scored the winner.

At the end, it was Al Ain who looked the most relieved to share the spoils with a fired up Jazira.

The defence wilted under pressure and Cosmin Olaroiu, the Al Ain coach, would have been relieved when a last grasp header from Juma Abdulla fell just wide.

If the first half belonged to Al Ain then certainly the second half was Jazira's after Ekoko's strike as the Abu Dhabi side completed a gritty fightback.

apassela@thenational.ae

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