x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Al Jazira in the driving seat for third spot in Pro League

Baniyas finish match with nine men as Jazira leapfrog them into third spot.

Baniyas’s Nick Carle, right, slides in on Al Jazira’s Fernandinho during last night’s match but the visitors who came out on top.
Baniyas’s Nick Carle, right, slides in on Al Jazira’s Fernandinho during last night’s match but the visitors who came out on top.

SHAMKHA // Al Jazira broke a four-year jinx by winning their first Pro League game at the Baniyas Stadium, prolonging the battle for third place until the final round on Saturday.

Ricardo Oliveira scored twice after Abdulla Mousa had cancelled Saleh Al Minhali's early goal for Jazira to come from a goal down to win 3-1 over an undermanned Baniyas last night.

It was Jazira's first win after three draws and a defeat to Baniyas, who were reduced to nine players when Thamer Mohammed and Amer Abdulrahman were both sent off for two bookable offences each.

"It was very important for us to finish third in the league and this result is a very positive step forward," Jazira coach Luis Milla said. "Our fate to hold onto this position is now in our own hands. We play Al Wahda and that's a derby game that will give enough motivation for the players to win."

Baniyas were already depleted with more than half the team rested for Thursday's Gulf Clubs Championship second-leg final, in which they hold an away goal advantage over Al Khor of Qatar.

The result moved Jazira, who face Al Wahda next, two points ahead of Baniyas, who play Al Wasl away in their final match at the weekend.

Fernandinho had an excellent opportunity to put the visitors ahead early in the game.

Matias Delgado beat the offside trap with a through pass for the Brazilian forward to scoot inside the box, but he chose the wrong option, to go around Mohsin Al Hashmi, the Baniyas goalkeeper, and lost possession when challenged by Mohammed, the defender.

To make matters worse, Al Minhali scored at the other end with a low shot from 25 yards to beat Ali Kasheif, the Jazira keeper, at the far post.

However, Jazira went in to the half-time break on level terms after Mousa headed a dipping cross from Delgado two minutes from the break.

Fernandinho was unlucky in the second half, his effort from inside the box after a fine solo run hitting the far post.

However, he contributed to the win with two excellent assists that his compatriot Oliveira converted into scores.

"We didn't have a good first half, but we did better after the break to win the game," Milla said. "Baniyas were depleted, but we, too, had more than half the team absent through injuries and suspensions."