Fifth round of ADNOC Pro League had its fair share of thrill and entertainment due to the presence of last-minute goals, late wins, and unforeseen comebacks.
Most of the teams had a reality check with former champions Sharjah who earned hard-fought 2-1 victory over visiting Al Jazira in the ‘Saudi National Day’ Round Five of the UAE ADNOC Pro League.
Topping the standings with an unblemished record, Al Ain were taken by surprise by an inspiring second half performance from Al Orooba as they managed to come back after falling 3-0 behind clinging on to a 3-3 draw, on Thursday.
Al Ain’s prolific scorer Kodjo Laba was at his best with a fine first half hat-trick with goals in the 29th, 38th and 43rd minute as Al Ain showed signs of total domination at the Fujairah Club ground.
But what followed in the second half proved to be elation for the home crowd as Al Orooba’s Bahraini player Ali Madan pulled one back from the spot in the 59th minute and then substitute Saeed Obaid diverted in a ball from Kingsley Eduwo in the 68th minute.
Madan then struck a second time deep into injury period to help Al Orooba to a vital point to take them to three points following a couple of losses.
Laba’s hat-trick, the first of the season, moved him at the top of the individual scoring charts with nine goals, followed by Sharjah’s Ben Malango (5 goals) and the trio of Sebastian Tagliabue (Al Nasr), Yourles Mena (Ajman) and Joao Pedro (Al Wahda) with four goals each.
The biggest winners on the weekend were Sharjah after substitute Khalid Abdul Raheem Bawazir and Malango scored two goals within four minutes to pull the former champions into second place with 12 points.
Riding on a second-minute strike from Ali Mabkhout, Al Jazira were reduced to ten before half-time following a red card to Khalifa Al Hammadi.
They managed to keep the Sharjah strikers at bay, till the home team lost Bernard Duarte eight minutes after the hour.
But, substitute Bawazir and Malango found the back of the net in the 82nd and 86th minute as Sharjah walked off with full points while making up for last week’s final gasp 4-3 loss to Shabab Al Ahli.
Al Wahda and Shabab Al Ahli kept up the pressure on the front-runners after playing out to a goalless draw in Abu Dhabi, while Al Nasr had no mercy on winless Emirates Club in Ras Al Khaimah to move into fifth place.
Khor Fakkan and Ajman were the other two teams with a point to prove as both walked off with full points.
Khor Fakkan won over Al Dhafra 3-0, while Ajman inflicted a 2-0 defeat on Bani Yas.
Al Wasl continued their struggle before goal following their 1-1 draw against Ittihad Kalba.
Matches for the sixth round of the UAE ADNOC Pro League are set to be held on 28-29 September.