It was drama and action across matchweek 17 of the Arabian Gulf League, as several last-minute goals flew in during injury time in various matches, causing agony and ecstasy in equal measure.
The most anticipated game of the week saw Al Jazira snatch a late 3-3 draw against Bani Yas at Mohammad bin Zayed Stadium. The Pride of Abu Dhabi had a strong start to the game and seemed to be headed towards another big win after taking a 2-0 lead in the opening 14 minutes, thanks to goals from Brandley Kuwas and Ali Mabkhout. The Sky Blues, however, made a comeback, as Joao Pedro netted once, and Nicolas Gimenez scored a quick-fire brace to go 3-2 up. Al Jazira had to fight back to secure a point and it wasn’t until the fourth minute of injury time when Imoh Ezekiel netted the equalizer.
Bani Yas remained third on 33 points and continued to chase the top sides who are tied on 37 points. Meanwhile, Al Jazira missed a huge chance to replace Sharjah at the top of the standings after the King were held to a 1-1 draw by Al Dhafra at Hamdan Bin Zayed Stadium to drop two valuable points in the title race. This marked Sharjah's third winless game in a row and the first league draw between the two sides since 2017.
Al Ain moved into the top four after cruising 3-1 past Fujairah at Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium to raise their tally to 30 points. Caio Canedo opened the scoring in the first half and netted a second after the break coupled with a penalty from Laba Kodjo. Kristiano Samuel pulled on back to continue his impressive performances with Fujairah as he is now involved in five goals in the past five matches (4 goals - 1 assist). The Boss are ahead of Al Nasr by virtue of head-to-head record after the Blues defeated Ajman 3-0 at Rashid Bin Saeed Stadium.
Shabab Al Ahli sealed a late comeback win against Hatta at Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Stadium, as they were trailing 1-0 until the 86th minute when Yahya Al Ghassani and Mohamed Juma scored two goals in less than two minutes to hand the guests three important points, putting them in sixth place.
Ismail Matar netted two penalties for Al Wahda before Tahnoon AlZaabi scored late to guide the Clarets to a 3-0 victory over Khorfakkan at Al Nahyan Stadium. They are now tied on 27 points with Al Wasl who played out a thrilling 4-4 draw with Ittihad Kalba at Zabeel Stadium. Ahmed Jshak, Peniel Mlapa and Romulo dos Santos scored for the guests, while Fabio Lima netted for the home side, as the first half ended with a 3-1 lead for Kalba. The second half was a different story as Fabio Lima netted a second in the 71st minute and scored the equalizer in the first minute of injury time. Peniel Mlapa regained Ittihad Kalba’s lead three minutes later before Lima netted a fourth goal to force a share of the spoils.
This marked one of the most exciting matchweeks of the Arabian Gulf League season so far, as it brought 29 goals, which equals matchweek 1’s record for the highest-scoring matchweek. The fight for the top spots intensified as the gap between the 1st and 5th spots is now reduced to seven points only. There is no shortage of competition in the goalscoring charts with candidates from Al Jazira, Al Wasl, Bani Yas, Sharjah and Shabab Al Ahli fighting for the top spot.
Fabio Lima’s super hat-trick put him second in the goalscoring charts, one goal behind leader Ali Mabkhout who has 15 goals to his name so far. Joao Pedro sit third with 13 goals, one above Welliton Soares and two ahead of Igor Jesus.