Teams of the upper end of the table continued to put in massive efforts pushing towards the top with Al Ain consolidating their position at the summit by the end of round nine of the ADNOC Pro League.
Al Ain left it late to grind out a hard-fought 1-0 win against Al Dhafra in Tuesday’s early match, with their Moroccan star Soufian Rahimi nodding in the match-winner half-way through the second half.
Rahimi squirmed his way past his marker in the 68th minute to convert a perfect cross from the right flank and deny Al Dhafra a vital point.
Al Ain could have doubled the score when they were awarded a penalty in the 81st minute, but goalkeeper Abdullah Sultan Al Nasri denied Caio Canedo with a fine save.
The home side still managed to hold on to their position as the table leader with 21 points, while Al Dhafra continued with their anguish in 12th with seven points.
Al Wahda surge into second
Al Wahda’s momentum continued as the team delivered a flawless performance in their 3-0 victory over former champions Sharjah late on Wednesday.
Led by the experienced Ismail Matar, Al Wahda resumed their constant progress registering their third successive victory to slip into second place after piling up 17 points.
Held to a 1-1 draw by leaders Al Ain in Round Six, Al Wahda hammered last-place Emirates 4-1 in Round Seven before a convincing 3-1 win against Al Dhafra in the next round.
On Wednesday, the Clarets paced themselves well and scored three goals in the second session with Omar Khrbin, Juan Pedro Pereira and Fabio Martins all on target.
While Al Wahda continued their march towards the top, Sharjah fell further down the ranks in eighth spot and 13 points.
Bragging rights for Al Nasr
Al Nasr was another team returning home with a big win as they bagged a vital 2-1 win in the battle of neighbours against Al Wasl.
Down in the dumps following a 0-3 humiliation at home at the hands of Ittihad Kalba the previous week, Al Nasr managed a strong hold on the match with quick first half goals from Antonio Jose De Carvalho (22nd minute) and Sebastian Tagliabue (31st minute).
Michel Araujo pulled one back midway through the second half, but it was a bit too late as Al Nasr made the short trip back home in third place with 16 points – same as Al Jazira and Shabab Al Ahli – who now occupy fourth and fifth spots, respectively.
Shabab Al Ahly and Al Jazira squander golden chances
Both Shabab Al Ahli and Al Jazira blew off golden chances to stay alongside the leading pack. The two teams, however, remained within striking distance of the top three.
Shabab Al Ahli would be thankful as they held on for a goalless draw against Ittihad Kalba, while Al Jazira were left to regret missed chances after going 2-1 down to a better-organised Ajman.
KhorFakkan, who have now move up to sixth place, was another team to impress as they outplayed lack-luster Al Orooba 4-1. Despite the humble start to their campaign, KhorFakkan has managed to accumulate 13 points from a possible 15 in the last five rounds.
They began with a 3-0 win against Al Dhafra in Round Five and followed this up with a 2-1 result against pointless Emirates in Round Six.
After dropping points against Bani Yas in a 2-2 draw in Round Seven, they got the better of Ajman in the next round while their last triumph saw them comfortably lie in sixth with 15 points.
Second win for Bani Yas
Bani Yas earned only their second win of the season and their first at home when they beat pointless Emirates 3-1.
Bani Yas have been struggling this season, despite some good displays on the pitch.
However, they finally managed to get their act together on home ground on Wednesday with Nicolas Gimenez securing a brace and then setting up Issac Thelin for the third goal as they currently sit in eleventh place.
The ADNOC Pro League will now take a short break with round 10 games scheduled for November 20 and 21.