x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Al Shaab fire their way back to the Pro League

Al Dhafra 2 Al Shaab 3 Late goal seals promotion for Shaab - as Dhafra also secure Pro League place in a dramatic finale to the play-offs.

Both Al Shaab (in red) and Al Dhafra will play in the Pro League this season.
Both Al Shaab (in red) and Al Dhafra will play in the Pro League this season.

Al Dhafra 2 Al Shaab 3

AL AIN // Rodrigo Virgilio scored three minutes from time to give Al Shaab a 3-2 win over Al Dhafra to secure a return to the Pro League for the first time in four years as both sides won promotion.

The Brazilian's second goal of the evening completed a dramatic night for Shaab after they had briefly looked as if they would miss out after seeing a two-goal lead cancelled out by a resurgent Dhafra in the second half.

Shaab took the top spot in the final standings thanks to having the best goal difference between the three teams who were locked on six points.

Dhafra, despite their defeat, qualify behind them by virtue of their head-to-head victory over Sharjah, who are now facing up to life in the First Division.

Shaab had enjoyed the perfect start to a game they had to win. as Rodrigo Silva and Virgilio had put them two up inside the first 16 minutes.

Silva beat Saif Mohammed to a high ball to tap in a cross from Mohammed Ahmed to open the scoring in the fourth minute.

Virgilo then struck the post with a fierce drive, before he did find the net as he was first to react to slot home after Silva's effort had been parried by Abdulbasit Mohammed, the Dhafra keeper.

That was to prove to be Silva's last positive contribution to proceedings for his side as four minutes later he was sent off by the referee Mohammed Abdullah Hassan for a second bookable offence.

Dhafra, making use of the numerical advantage, nearly pulled one back immediately, however, Mahmoud Khamis' low shot came back off the post.

Dhafra had another opportunity to cut the deficit four minutes before half time, but this time Makhete Diop's header from eight yards fell wide.

Dhafra, who had only needed a point going into the match after winning their opening two games of the play-offs, pushed forward in numbers after the restart.

Yousuf Abdulrahman, the Shaab goalkeeper, did well to keep out a close range header from Diop.

The Senegalese forward was again off target with another close range header as the Shaab goal was put under siege.

Dhafra were rewarded for their perseverance when Saeed Al Ahbabi, the substitute, headed home a ball from Abdulraheem Jumaa with 20 minutes remaining.

While Dhafra kept pushing hard for the equaliser, Shaab were trying their best to play for time, but all their efforts were undone 13 minutes from time when Diop was on target as he headed home the rebound after substitute Pinga's effort had come back off the woodwork with Abdulrahman beaten.

But Shaab were not to be denied, and needing a goal, Virgilo was their saviour as he capped a fine counter-attacking move with a cool finish to ensure that at the final whistle both sides and their supporters could celebrate and start planning their Pro League campaigns.

apassela@thenational.ae

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