x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Al Jazira survive a scare from Al Dhafra and remain on course for title

Al Jazira move a step closer to being crowned the Pro League champions after winning an eight-goal thriller against the bottom team Al Dhafra.

Al Jazira 5 // Al Dhafra 3

ABU DHABI // Al Jazira took another giant step towards the Pro League title last night when they came from two goals down to beat Al Dhafra in an eight-goal thriller.

The victory means Jazira now have a 12-point advantage over Baniyas, their nearest challengers, and need just four points from their remaining five matches to secure a league and President’s Cup double.

Boris Kabi gave Dhafra a 2-0 lead in front of an 11,874 crowd at the Mohammed bin Zayed stadium before Bare, Jazira’s Brazilian striker, and Juma Abdulla levelled the scores. Abdulla Mousa put the home side in front in the 71st minute but Tawfeeq Abdulrazaq equalised for Dhafra four minutes later.

Ricardo Oliveira restored the Abu Dhabi side’s advantage and Ali Mabkhout sealed the victory five minutes from time to extend Jazira’s record unbeaten run in the league to 25 matches since February 2010.

Abel Braga, the Jazira coach, was understandably happy with the result.

He said: “It is a bit disappointing to allow Dhafra to score three goals but the good thing was that we scored five and won the game in the end.

“We knew Dhafra would be difficult opponents and if they continue to play the same way they still have a chance to remain in the Pro League.

“They played the counter attack well and scored from the six or seven moves involving Abass Lawal, Mohammed Salem and Kabi. We had a lot of possession in the first half but couldn’t score. But I am happy now we have a 12-point lead and possibly one match away from winning the league.”

Mohammed Kwid, the Dhafra coach, admitted they were beaten by a better team but were not disgraced on the night.

“We should have been more cautious in the defence but then we can’t do much against a team like Jazira,” said the Syrian. “We used the counter attacks to good effect and managed to score an early goal. We could have scored again had Salem been on target.

“We also managed to double our lead in the first minute of the second half but we knew Jazira would come back hard at us.”

Dhafra’s counter-attacking style of play troubled the league leaders for much of the first half but they went on to dominate the game after Bare’s goal.

The visitors lost Mohammed al Tamimi, their goalkeeper, to injury and he had to be replaced by Abdulbasit Mohammed.