Soccer News of Friday, 8 March 2013
Asamoah Gyan netted his 23rd and 24th goals of the season as Al Ain battled back from an early deficit to see off a spirited Al Wasl side 2-1 on Thursday night to keep their title bid firmly on track.
The Ghanaian proved to be the matchwinner, just as he had been on Sunday night against Al Jazira, as Al Ain stretched their lead at the top of the table to nine points over Bani Yas, who play on Friday.
Achille Emana, thrust into an emergency striking role in the absence of top scorer Emiliano Alfaro, had given Wasl a shock lead as early as the third minute. Crashing home a fine left-footed effort past Dawoud Sulaiman from the edge of the area.
The imposing Cameroonian would prove to be a constant thorn in Al Ain’s backline in the opening period, linking up intelligently with striker partner Jussie throughout.
But for all their endeavour they were unable to find another goal and as the half wore on it was Al Ain who looked the more dangerous with Gyan and Omar Abdulrahman, again sporting a brace on his left knee, both missing presentable opportunities.
In the reverse fixture earlier this season Al Ain had thrashed their opponents 5-0, but bouyed by the recent appointment of caretaker boss Eid Baroot, Wasl looked a far better outfit than the one that surrendered so meekly last November.
However, Al Ain’s class would eventually shine through, and it was no surprise that when it did their deadly duo – Abdulrahman and Gyan – were involved.
Abdulrahman, continuing to attract interest from some of Europe’s elite, was the architiect as he so often is, lofting a wonderful pass over the static Wasl defence for Gyan to volley across Ahmed Mahmoud and into the far corner of the net.
It was a wonderful finish by the Ghana skipper who celebrated in his usual fashion with his odd dancing moves for TV cameras becoming a regular feature at stadiums across the Emirates.
The pass from Abdulrahman, though, was worth the admission fee alone. Little wonder his bosses for both club and country – Cosmin Olariou and Mahdi Ali – believe he is destined to grace on of Europe’s top leagues in the not too distant future.
With the scores level the game soon opened up with both teams throwing caution to the wind in their quest for a winning goal.
Jussie might have done better when scampering clear down the left, but opted to pull the ball back to Emana who was soon crowded out rather than going it alone which had looked the better option.
Al Ain were not so charitable at the other end 10 minutes from time. Abdulrahman was again the instigator, feeding the ball to Jires Kembo Ekoko who had pulled off into the inside right channel.
The Frenchman in turn produced a delightful clipped cross for Gyan, who had peeled off the back of his marker, to bullet his header home form six yards and sent the away fans into raptures. Cue the dancing once again.
With Al Jazira drawing 3-3 at home to bottom clin Dibba earlier in the day and Al Shabab suffering a shock 2-0 home reverse to Dhafra, the onus is now on second-placed Bani Yas to keep the title race alive.
The Abu Dhabi club host city rivals Al Wahda on Friday night hoping to maintain their recent form and reduce the deficit back down to six points.