All, except one out of the five teams who advanced through to UAE pro league cup quarter-finals, managed to use their first-leg wins to their advantage as the last eight line-up was nearly completed, late on Tuesday.
Al Ain, who have claimed the title just once with a 1-0 win against Al Wahda in the 2008-’09 season finale, lost 1-0 to Emirates Club, but still managed to advance on a 2-1 aggregate in the penultimate Group One match.
There is still just one match remaining in the tournament’s first round with Al Wahda scheduled to meet Khor Fakkan, on November 7.
The Clarets have a lot of work to do as they trail Khor Fakkan 2-3 following their loss in the opening round earlier this month.
In the quarter-finals, Shabab Al Ahli will play Ajman, while Al Nasr await the winners of the last match between Al Wahda and Khor Fakkan next month.
Meanwhile, Al Jazira will be up against Ittihad Kalba and Al Wasl will take on Al Ain.
Sharjah vs Ajman
This match was certainly the showpiece of the first round. Following a well-contested 2-2 result at home, Ajman had a mountain to climb in their away leg as they trailed Sharjah 0-3 with a brace from Ben Malango and a long-distance strike from Otabek Shukurov.
Ajman fought their way back with Bubacarr Trawally of Gambia making it 3-1 in the 79th minute, and then Abdullah Saleh came up with a diving header four minutes later to bring them closer.
With just one minute remaining, Bilal Yousef’s low shot found the far corner of the Sharjah net to make it 3-3 for a 5-5 aggregate score to help Ajman advance on the away goals rule ahead of their more illustrious opponents.
Al Nasr vs Al Dhafra
Al Nasr were held to a goalless draw against visiting Al Dhafra, but that result was good enough for the Dubai-based club as they had gone into the return leg with a comfortable 3-1 win in their away tie.
Though the home team failed to break the deadlock, the draw still witnessed some clear scoring chances with Al Nasr enjoying 68% of ball possession, that resulted in eight shots, two of which were on target.
Al Nasr created seven scoring chances, but somehow did not take advantage of any of these for an outright win.
Al Dhafra, on the other hand, were offensively pale with just one shot – a 37th minute long-range effort from Makhete Diop – but that too was off target.
Al Wasl vs Bani Yas
Riding on a slender 2-1 away lead, Al Wasl did enough to earn a 2-0 home win and book their place in the last eight round.
Al Wasl displayed their dominance with five shots on goal, whereas Michel Araujo scored twice to seal a fine 2-0 win for the Cheetahs.
Bani Yas rarely threatened with only an effort from Gaston Suarez towards the end of the first half worth mentioning.
Al Orooba vs Ittihad Kalba
Nashd Abdul Qadir’s first half header was enough for Al Orooba to win 1-0 at home against Ittihad Kalba.
But it was more of a moral victory for Al Orooba as Ittihad Kalba had travelled to the Saqr bin Mohammed Al Qassimi Stadium with a 4-0 first-leg advantage.
Ittihad Kalba was the dominant side with more than 53 per cent possession and several attempts on the Al Orooba goal.
Al Orooba came up with one call on the Ittihad Kalba citadel and that resulted in the only goal of the match two minutes after the half-hour mark.
Emirates vs Al Ain
The visiting Al Ain team won the war, but lost the battle. Coming in with a 2-0 first-leg result, Al Ain went 0-1 down to Emirates, thanks to a 78th minute goal from fresh recruit Yago Leonardo.
Al Ain dominated enjoying 63% of ball possession, aiming just four shots at the Emirates’ goal, of which two were on target.
And even though the home team managed to play an open game in search of goals, they only had 37% of possession and an astounding 16 shots on Al Ain goal, of which just six were within the framework.
But the home side had to contend with the on-form Khalid Eisa on goal as Al Ain shot-stopper brought off five stupendous saves to see side advance to quarterfinals with a 2-1 win on aggregate.