Al Ain managed a routine 2-0 win against Ittihad Kalba in matchweek 17 of the ADNOC Pro League, making it four wins on the trot and extending their lead at the top of the table to nine points, all while keeping a third clean sheet in a row for the first time since April 2018.
It took just two minutes for Al Ain to threaten, when Soufiane Rahimi lathered a shot towards goal but a defender managed to block, before Laba Kodjo’s header in the third minute of play was saved by young keeper Eissa Houti.
Rahimi squandered two more chances in the 12th and 15th minutes.
After VAR confirmation, a 26th minute penalty was awarded to Al Ain and Kodjo made no mistake from the spot to open the scoring, taking his tally to six goals in six games against the Kalba-based side.
The hosts rallied on to try to restore parity and Paniel Mlapa missed a chance thanks to Khaled Eissa saving the former’s header, but it was Al Ain who got the ball into the net after 55 minutes though it was ruled out.
Al Ain eventually doubled their lead through Rahimi, who received Kodjo’s pass and had a free run on goal before slotting in on 63 minutes.
Habib Al Fardan missed a chance to claw back for Jorge Echeverrito’s men with a shot that flew past the post, before Kodjo’s header rattled the crossbar with seven minutes of play remaining, denying him his brace.
Sergei Rebrov’s men are on 42 points in first place after the win and their third clean sheet in a row, while Ittihad Kalba sit in 10th place on 18 points.