x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Pro League round-up: Al Jazira benefit from own goal and escape Dubai with a point

Dubai gets a goal from substitute Mohamed Ali Hussain before an own goal in the 84th minute help Al Jazira walk away with a point, writes Gary Meenaghan.

Al Jazira's Fernandiho, left, battles for possession with Ahmed Mallah of Dubai during Saturday's action at the Dubai Sports & Cultural Club Stadium. Satish Kumar / The National
Al Jazira's Fernandiho, left, battles for possession with Ahmed Mallah of Dubai during Saturday's action at the Dubai Sports & Cultural Club Stadium. Satish Kumar / The National

Dubai 1 Al Jazira 1

Dubai Ali Hussain 62’
Al Jazira Kayed (og) 84’
Man of the match Sultan Bargash (Al Jazira)

DUBAI // On a cool, crisp night and surrounded by sand and near silence an own goal saved the blushes of Luis Milla as his Al Jazira side snatched a late point against Dubai in a Pro League game in which they had dominated.

The 2011 Pro League champions controlled possession, yet found themselves behind midway through the second half courtesy of a fine counter-attack that was finished off expertly by substitute Mohamed Ali Hussain.

A late rally by the visitors, however, saw Saeed Kayed bundle into his own net to gift Jazira a point and deny lowly Dubai a much needed win.

"The control of the game, we had it," Milla said at his post-match news conference.

"At the moment they scored, it was a very good counter-attack, but our team has persisted and we got the late goal.

"For us, it was very important to get the result. If we want to play next season in the [Asian] Champions League, we need to fight and get as many points as possible. Until the end we will fight."

In the remote Dubai Club Stadium, some 40km from the city, it is not only the surrounding sands that shift, momentum swings too. The Black Spiders had arrived having won only three times from 13 games under Milla, yet with two of those victories having arrived in the past week the reputable Spaniard had called for his side to build on recent performances and forget the tiredness they were feeling.

Early on, they provided few signs of such exhaustion. Sultan Bargash proved a nuisance down the left wing, while Matias Delgado and Subait Khater linked up well without creating a great deal in midfield. When Bargash found himself in space early in the second half, his dipping volley beat Ali Jamal in the Dubai goal, but the ball rattled the top of the crossbar.

Jazira appeared merely to be biding their time and Abdullah Mousa should have opened the scoring when he connected with Khater's free kick, but the ball sailed over. As the game grew on though and Jazira attacked, Dubai found space behind the opposition defence. In the 62nd minute they made it count as Ali Hussian collected the ball on the overlap and drove through Ali Khaseif's legs from a tight angle.

Jazira were rattled and could have conceded again moments later, but Hassan Abdulrahman's cross was knocked just past the post by the head of Rodrigo Vergilio. Milla, strutting the sidelines in a smart navy blue shirt, settled his side down with the introduction of captain Ibrahim Diaky as they began to push for the equaliser.

"We thought Ibrahim could provide us something in those final 30 minutes and he did," Milla said. "It was a game that was difficult to prepare because the players are very tired after a big effort in midweek [a 2-1 Chanmpions League win against Tractor Sazi]. That must not be discounted, but I don't think the result was justified. We were stronger and I am happy with the effort shown."

With only seven minutes remaining, the goal came. Kayed, in trying to block a cross, turned the ball into his own net. Afterwards he held his head in his hands. Milla, in contrast, turned to his assistants in relief.

Baniyas 2 Al Dhafra 2

Baniyas fought from behind twice to salvage a draw against Al Dhafra at home on Saturday night. Makhete Diop put visitors Dhafra ahead on 21 and 47 minutes but with Mohamed Jaber and Mohammed Fawzi on target for the hosts in either half. Baniyas closed the gap on second-placed Al Ahli to four points.

Al Shaab 1 Al Ain 0

French striker Michael N’dri, right, scored 11 minutes from time to almost assure Al Shaab’s place in the Pro League next season – and relegate Kalba at the same time. The victory puts Shaab seven points ahead of second-bottom Dibba, with three games left, while Kalba, who played on Friday, are down.

gmeenaghan@thenational.ae

twitter Follow us @SprtNationalUAE