Gyan-less Al Ain move closer to Pro League title success with win over Al Shabab
A depleted Al Ain moved 11 points clear at the top of the Pro League table on Friday night after coming from behind to beat Al Shabab 2-1 at the Tahnoun bin Mohammed Stadium.
Shorn of a raft of first-team regulars including key duo Omar Abdulrahman and Asamoah Gyan through injury, The Boss looked to be heading for defeat when Luiz da Silva headed Shabab in front shortly after the interval.
But two goals in four minutes late on turned the tie and edged Al Ain ever closer to a second successive title and 11th in total with just seven games remaining.
Eighteen year-old striker Yousef Ahmed was the hero, latching onto Alex Brosque’s wonderful through ball to finish with aplomb after coming on as a second half substitute.
Brosque, named in Al Ain’s line-up despite playing the full 90 minutes of Australia’s World Cup qualifier against Oman on Tuesday, had just minutes earlier levelled things up from the penalty spot after Mohammed Essa had saw red for handball.
The win coupled with defeat for second placed Bani Yas at Al Nasr means Al Ain are now 11 points clear, although Al Ahli have a chance to cut that to 10 when they play Al Shaab on Saturday.
Shabab can feel more than a little unfortunate at leaving the Garden City empty handed having caused the much-changed hosts problems with their exciting counter-attacking approach, spearheaded by Brazilian star Ciel.
Al Ain coped manifully without midfield lynchpin Mirel Radoi, captain Hilal Saeed and attacking triumvirate Abdulrahman, Gyan and the suspended Jires Kembo Ekoko.
With the strongest squad in the league bar none, boss Cosmin Olariou will have been delighted to see his fringe players rise to challenge.
And with the league all but sewn up, he can now turn his focus on ensuring Al Ain progress from their AFC Champions League group.