Shabab Al Ahli were crowned Arabian Gulf Cup champions for the fifth time after beating Al Nasr 5-4 on penalties at Sharjah Stadium on Friday night, in a match that was marked by a special atmosphere and held under the slogan “Year of the 50th Cup Final” in celebration of the UAE’s Golden Jubilee.
Both sides opted for a cautious start to the game as the opening stage saw few chances arrive on both sides of the field.
Shabab Al Ahli missed a golden chance to take an early lead when Igor Jesus was brought down on the edge of the box and Federico Cartabia’s left-footed free-kick bounced off the woodwork on 8 minutes. Al Nasr followed up with an attack of their own four minutes later, which saw defender Saeed Suwaidan blast a good chance wide of goal.
The reigning champions started to look more dangerous midway through the first half. Diaa Saba unleashed a powerful effort that was saved by Majed Naser, before the Shabab Al Ahli keeper pulled off yet another save when he denied Mehdi Abeid’s close-range effort in the 27th minute.
Al Nasr were dealt a huge blow in the 34th minute as they were reduced to 10 men when Gláuber Lima was shown the red card following a VAR review for a dangerous challenge on Igor Jesus.
Carlos Eduardo then struck a good effort wide after teammate Igor Jesus burst down the field on a counter five minutes before the break. Despite controlling possession in the remaining minutes, Shabab Al Ahli couldn’t capitalize on Al Nasr’s numerical disadvantage as they headed into halftime with the scoreline leveled at 0-0.
Shabab Al Ahli had the upper hand in the second half as they piled on the pressure in search of the opening goal.
The referee awarded Jaloliddin Masharipov a penalty for a challenge inside the box but overturned his decision after reviewing the VAR just before the one-hour mark.
Mashripov had a chance at goal five minutes later but his long-range effort was parried away by Al Nasr keeper Ahmed Shambieh. Igor Jesus then directed his glancing header just wide of goal, before Carlos Eduardo had a header saved by the in-form Al Nasr keeper.
Shabab Al Ahli also had to continue the game with 10 men when Mohammed Marzooq was sent off for a second booking for a foul on Ryan Mendes in the 82nd minute.
Eduardo missed a golden chance to net a late winner when the Brazilian midfielder miscued his header, as Al Nasr held on for the four minutes of extra time, as the game went into a penalty shootout.
Shabab Al Ahli emerged 5-4 winners in a dramatic penalty shoutout to win a record-extending fifth Arabian Gulf Cup title and avenge their last season’s defeat to Al Nasr.