x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Fujairah cannot stand up to Al Ain's attackers

Asamoah Gyan was not a threat but Al Ain simply turned to their other weapons in defeating Fujairah to advance in the President's Cup competition.

SHARJAH , UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - Dec 20 : Jires Kembo Ekoko ( no 9 in white ) of Al Ain in action during the UAE President´s Cup football match between Al Ain vs Fujairah at Sharjah football stadium in Sharjah. ( Pawan Singh / The National ) For Sports. Story by Ahmed.
SHARJAH , UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - Dec 20 : Jires Kembo Ekoko ( no 9 in white ) of Al Ain in action during the UAE President´s Cup football match between Al Ain vs Fujairah at Sharjah football stadium in Sharjah. ( Pawan Singh / The National ) For Sports. Story by Ahmed.

SHARJAH // Asamoah Gyan did not feature on the goalscorers' list tonight, something that has not happened in any of Al Ain's 13 Pro League matches this season, but the league leaders still cruised to a 4-0 win over Fujairah to book their place in the last eight of the President's Cup.

Gyan looked a bit off-colour at the Sharjah Stadium and was eventually pulled out of the game in the 70th minute, but two goals from Jires Kembo Ekoko and one each from Ismail Ahmed and Mohammed Salem did the job for Al Ain.

Few Al Ain fans had turned up for the game.

Normally, they are out in numbers to support their team, whatever the competition, but a last-16 game, against a Division One team in distant Sharjah did not seem a very exciting proposition.

However, the minnows, currently fourth in the second division of UAE football, made a spirited start, determined to prove themselves on a stage they rarely get to grace. They managed to keep Al Ain quiet for more than 30 minutes with Ahmed Ibrahim doing a good job in the Fujairah goal but could do little when Kembo Ekoko muscled his way into the box and unleashed a scorching volley from close range in the 31st minute.

Ibrahim put his body in the way but the force of the shot carried the ball past him into the net.

The floodgates had opened, but Fujairah had done well to keep Al Ain quiet for so long.

In only three of their 13 Pro League matches this season have Cosmin Olaroiu's men had to wait longer than half an hour for their opening goal - against Al Jazira, Al Shabab and Kalba. The Pro League leaders could have added a second in the 36th minute but Ibrahim did well once again, sliding to his right to keep out Gyan's well-placed effort.

The goalkeeper also denied Gyan at the 41st minute, diving to the other side this time for an airborne collection.

Instead Kembo Ekoko got his brace when he got the better of the Fujairah keeper once again in the second minute of first half of added time, turning and blasting the ball into the corner of the net.

In the opening minute of the second half, Ahmed made it 3-0 for Al Ain with a header that trickled past the keeper.

Salem added the fourth in the 75th minute.

Al Shabab also took their place in the last eight of the cup competition with a 3-1 win over Al Nasr tonight, bouncing back after conceding an early lead.

Earlier, Ricardo Oliveira scored twice, including the winner in the 90th minute, to give the defending champions Al Jazira a 2-1 victory over Ajman and a place in the quarter-final of the tournament.

Andre Senghor also struck a brace as Baniyas prevailed 2-0 over Dubai, while the Pro League's bottom-placed team Dibba Al Fujairah knocked out Al Wasl with a 2-1 win in extra time after the teams were locked 1-1 at the end of 90 minutes.

arizvi@thenational.ae

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