A 2-2 draw leaves club four points behind the leaders Al Jazira, although they have a game in hand, but level on points with second-placed Al Wasl.
Gyan bails out Al Ain with penalty retake at Baniyas
Baniyas 2 // Al Ain 2
ABU DHABI // Asamoah Gyan rescued a point for Al Ain at Baniyas with a contentious penalty that he had to take twice.
Just like Barcelona's Lionel Messi last month against AC Milan in the Uefa Champions League, the Ghanaian striker was forced to retake a second half spot-kick, which he had scored, because he hesitated in his run-up, something that is now illegal.
Gyan, kept his nerve, however, the second time around to seal a draw as his goal finished the scoring at 2-2.
Cosmin Olaroiu, the Al Ain coach, said after the match that he did not even want the summer loan signing from the English Premier League club Sunderland to take the first kick.
"I don't like it when the player who wins a penalty, then takes the penalty," he said. "But Gyan scored from the spot against Emirates so he wanted to take it again. It was the referee's decision to retake it and Gyan did well to score twice.
"In fact, he had a slight injury at half time and I was going to take him off, but the player himself was determined to stay on."
Gabriel Calderon, who was only appointed the Baniyas coach 10 days ago, took a lot of positives from the draw, saying his players have responded well to his ideas in such a short space of time.
"I am happy with the result and the performance, as we have only been working with the players for a short time," the Argentine said. "We have worked a lot on tactics and I can see already that they have accepted some changes.
"Although I would say that we should have won this match."
Only five minutes had passed when Andre Senghor, who topped the Pro League scoring charts with 22 strikes last term, scored his third in six league games to give Baniyas the lead.
The Senegalese striker headed home a right wing cross by Adnan Al Beloshi, with Waleed Salem, the Al Ain goalkeeper, powerless to stop the effort.
Senghor celebrated by lifting his shirt to reveal a tribute to former teammate Theyab Awana, who died following a car crash on Sheikh Zayed Bridge in Abu Dhabi in September, that read: "We will never forget you."
And then after 11 minutes it was Al Ain's main goal-scoring threat who took centre stage.
A chipped pass from Ali Al Wehaibi over the home defence allowed Gyan to produce a deft header over the onrushing Mohamed Khalef for the equaliser.
However, it was Calderon's men who went into the break with their noses in front. Again it came from a cross, this time by Amer Al Hammadi, as Senghor cushioned a header for strike partner Fawzi Bashir, whose own header ended up in the top right corner two minutes before the interval.
The lead was short-lived, however, as Gyan won a penalty two minutes after the restart. The African was bundled over by the goalkeeper Khalef, a decision that baffled the Baniyas players and bench, who clearly thought the decision to be wrong.
He scored with his first attempt, but a slight hesitation before his shot resulted in the referee ordering it to be retaken. It merely delayed proceedings as Gyan again found the net at the second time of asking.
The draw leaves Al Ain four points behind the leaders Al Jazira, although they have a game in hand, but level on points with second-placed Al Wasl.
"It is way too early to say who will win the league," Olaroiu said. "If we win our extra match we will be just one point behind Jazira, who are a good side, but there is a long way to go."