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Matchweek 21 roundup: Bani Yas keep pace with Al Jazira, Sharjah lose ground in title race

The Arabian Gulf League title race is set to go down to the wire following a thrilling midweek that saw Bani Yas keep the pressure on leaders Al Jazira, while Sharjah lose ground in the title race after suffering their fifth defeat of the season.


Ali Mabkhout’s heroics against Fujairah sealed a vital victory for Al Jazira at Mohammad bin Zayed Stadium, which saw him bag his third hat-trick in the Arabian Gulf League 2020/21 season.  The 4-2 win maintained the Pride of Abu Dhabi’s position at the top of the table as they are locked in a close battle with second-placed Bani Yas with just two points separating the top 2.


After trailing 1-0 at halftime, the Sky Blues completed a second-half comeback thanks to goals from Sultan Al Shamsi and Joao Pedro to seal a 2-1 victory and keep up the pressure on the league leaders. This marked the first away from home victory for Bani Yas over Al Ain, with the Sky Blues also earning home and away win over the Boss for the first time in the same season.


Sharjah failed to keep pace with Al Jazira and Bani Yas as they succumbed to a 1-0 defeat to Shabab Al Ahli to fall seven points behind the league leaders. Carlos Eduardo’s first-half penalty proved to be the difference at Rashid Stadium with Shabab Al Ahli extending their undefeated run to 11 league games and beating Sharjah for the first time in the league since 2016.


Al Nasr emerged 2-1 victorious at Al Maktoum Stadium but were made to work hard for it by Ittihad Kalba. Sebastian Tagliabue’s opener was cancelled out by Peniel Mlapa’s goal, which marked the Tigers’ only shot on target in 90 minutes. The Blues didn’t seal the win until the 88th minute when Glauber Lima netted his first goal of the season to snatch the three points. The win put Al Nasr within one point of third-placed Sharjah and two clear of Shabab Al Ahli.


Zabeel Stadium saw Al Wasl battle back from a 2-0 deficit to defeat Ajman 4-2, as they also extended their unbeaten streak to 11 league games. Fabio Lima’s brace inspired the home side’s comeback and raised his goal tally to 19, two below Mabkhout at the top of the goalscoring charts. The win put Al Wasl in seventh place with 33 points, as they closed the gap with Al Ain to one point only.


After falling to a 4-0 defeat to Al Ain last week, Al Wahda bounced back with a 3-0 victory over Al Dhafra at Hamdan Bin Zayed Stadium thanks to goals from Omar Khribin, Abdulla Hamad, and Tim Matavz. The Clarets grabbed their first away win over Al Dhafra since 2016 and moved three points clear of ninth-placed Ittihad Kalba.


Ramon Lopes netted his third goal in the last three matches to snatch a 1-0 win for Khorfakkan over Hatta at Saqr bin Mohammad al Qassimi Stadium. The win saw Khorfakkan move up to 10th place with 21 points, one above Al Dhafra who suffered a defeat to Al Wahda.


Basement dwellers Ajman and Fujairah are in the thick of the relegation battle action as they both fell to defeats. Meanwhile, bottom-placed Hatta’s misery was compounded by yet another defeat that left them with eight points, three below each of Ajman and Fujairah.

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