x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Grafite treble as the points are shared

Grafite scores three times for Al Ahli but that proves not enough as Sharjah gets goals from Saaed Al Kas, Mohammed Suroor and Edinho to earn a draw.

Jakson Coelho, left, tries to get between a pass to Sharjah's Saeed Al Kas.
Jakson Coelho, left, tries to get between a pass to Sharjah's Saeed Al Kas.

During the off-season, Grafite was one of the top headline-grabbers among the newcomers to the Pro League after opting for a move from Wolfsburg in Germany to Dubai's Al Ahli.

The Brazilian striker had plenty of other options, with many clubs among Europe's elite leagues still interested in the 32-year-old. He picked Ahli though. "At my age it is time to think of my family, which is close to my heart, and discover something new," Grafite said at the time. There were some suggestions he was lured by the money. The club have refused to put a figure on his two-year deal, but the former door-to-door salesman seems worth every penny.

Last night Grafite scored three times against Sharjah, but unfortunately he did not finish on the winning side as the visitors replied through Saeed Al Kas, Mohammed Suroor and Edinho for a 3-3 draw in the Etisalat Cup.

Ahli finished the match with 10 men as Tariq Ahmed picked up his second booking in added time.

Having lost the first game 3-1 at promoted side Ajman, Ahli coach Ivan Hasek might find some solace in this result.

The way Sharjah began, they seemed headed for another disappointment.

Hasek looked edgy in the dugout as Sharjah dictated the terms early in the game. Their defensive shortcomings came to the fore as Edinho shook the post with a stinging volley in the sixth minute.

Three minutes later, Al Kas headed home the opener from an Iman Mobali corner, with the Ahli defenders rooted to their spots.

A misunderstanding between Sharjah goalkeeper Gassem Mohammed Hassan and Vanderson Almeida in the 18th minute, however, allowed Grafite to shoot home the equaliser.

Jaja had relayed the ball into the box and Hassan came charging out, but stopped after a misunderstanding with his defender and the Brazilian was not going to miss in front of an empty goal.

Grafite, the German Bundesliga's top scorer in 2008/09 when Wolfsburg won the league, then added the second in the 21st minute after yet another clever move from Jaja.

Brought from Turkish club Trabzonspor, Jaja muscled his way into the box from the left and then crossed the ball. Ahmed Khamis dragged it back, catching Gassem on the wrong-foot and Grafite tapped home into an empty goal yet again.

Sharjah could have gone into the break with the scores even at 2-2, but for some sharp work in the defence by Ahli's Lebanese recruit Yousuf Mohamed, who made a saving clear before either Edinho and Marcelinho could pounce.

Nine minutes after the restart, Sharjah's Ali Al Saadi was left clutching his head after his left-footer bounced off the upright.

The post had denied Sharjah for the second time, but seconds later Mohammed Suroor, who replaced Al Kas at half-time, bulged the net with a header to put the visitors on par. Sharjah's joy, however, did not last even a minute as Grafite headed in an Ahmed Khamis lob to put Ahli in the front once again.

Sharjah should have been level at 3-3 in the 59th minute, but for an officiating error.

In a goalmouth melee, Edinho fired home a rebound off the keeper, but the linesman had already waved him offside. TV replays, however, showed the official may have got it wrong.

Edinho did score the equaliser though, in the 72nd minute, stealing the ball from Mohammed Qassim's feet and then racing through to finish confidently from outside the box.

 

arizvi@thenational.ae

 

OTHER GAMES

 

BANIYAS 1
AJMAN 1

Baniyas Hussain 55’
Ajman Toure 90 +3’

Ibrahima Toure’s spectacular injury-time equaliser for Ajman continued the promoted side’s impressive start to the season as they snatched a 1-1 draw at Baniyas last night. Having beaten Al Ahli 3-1 at home in the opening round of the Etisalat Cup, the visitors seemed destined to leave empty-handed after Adnan Hussain gave Baniyas the lead. But Toure thundered in a bicycle kick to tie it up.

AL WASL 3
EMIRATES 0

Al Wasl Donda 47’, Ali, 85’, 90 +2

Diego Maradona’s Al Wasl turned in a stylish performance, drubbing Emirates to give the Argentine his first win in three games. Beaten 4-3 by Al Jazira last week, Wasl achieved their first clean sheet in Maradona’s reign and picked up their first points with all three goals coming in the second half. Edson Puch set up all three goals, first for Mariano Donda in the 47th minute and then for Essa Ali, the captain, who scored a brace, the first in the 85th and the second in added time.

AL NASR 0
AL SHABAB 2

Al Shabab maintained their 100 per cent record in the Etisalat Cup last night with a comfortable 2-0 victory over Al Nasr. Two goals in the first half paved the way for a victory which takes Shabab two points clear at the top of Group B following Ajman’s draw with Baniyas and improves their goal difference to plus five after two games of the competition and put them in a strong position to qualify for the latter stages. After Ajman they are four points clear of third-placed side Al Ahli, who are the next team they play on October 1 at the Maktoum Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Stadium.