RESULT: Al Ahli 1 (Jimenez 19′) Ajman 2 (Sy 27′, Kabi 85′)
Boris Kabi struck the winner five minutes from the end as Ajman fought back from a goal down to beat Group C rivals Al Ahli 2-1 in an absorbing Etisalat Cup encounter at the Rashid Stadium in Dubai.
Luis Jimenez had fired Ahli ahead in the 19th minute, only for Founeke Sy to equalise for the visitors as their hosts began to tire. Kabi then netted the winner as Ajman cemented their position at the top of the group with two wins in as many games.
It was Ahli who began the brighter, though, and they could have been in front after just four minutes when Jimenez hit the post after a sweeping move down the right. But they Chilean’s effort wouldn’t have stood had it gone in anyway as he had been flagged for offside.
Four minutes later, the left post once again came to Ajman’s rescue when UAE striker Ahmad Khalil’s effort beat Yousif Abdulla but not the upright.
Khalil’s profligacy would let him down a second time minutes after Jimenez would put the home side ahead with a crisp left footed effort that bounced past Yousif before settling inside the bottom right hand corner.
Olympic team star Khalil’s second open chance arrived five minuites later when a through ball released him through the middle. Again with just Yousif at his mercy, he failed to find a finish, firing straight at the ‘keeper.
Ajman had a few chances of their own, but with Ahli’s defence holding up, Sy, Karrar Jassim and Absessamad Ouahaki were all rendered ineffective.
Ajman’s goal was living a charmed life as the woodwork once again came to the visitors rescue as an entertaining 45 minutes drew to a close as Marzouq Hassan’s stinging shot from distance crashed off the left-hand post.
Ajman had an early chance after changing ends, but striker Kabi’s close-range header in the 48th minute flew over the bar. It turned out to be the only opportunity of the second half until Sy equalized for the visitors 12 minutes from time.
Ahli appeared to have taken their foot off the pedal because of the stifling humidity and out of nowhere Ajman burst forward the right. Ali Khamis played a neat low ball into the centre for Sy to roll into the bottom left hand corner.
Ajman were sprightly after drawing level and a minute later Sy missed the chance to collect a second and put his side ahead when his shot from missed the far post by a whisker.
However, Ajman did no have long to wait for a second as with five minutes left on the clock Kabi found time and space to fire past Ahli ‘keeper and former colleague Ali Mesmari, after receiving the ball from Khamis.
Four minutes were added on at the end, but Quique Sanchez-Flores’ men were unable find an equaliser of their own as Ajman strengthened their grip at the summit, while Ahli’s defeat means they have just one point from two games so far.
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