Ali Mabkhout netted a brace to guide Al Jazira to a 3-1 away win over Bani Yas in matchweek 4 of the Arabian Gulf League dubbed as “Flag Day Round”.
Al Jazira needed only 12 minutes to open the scoring against Bani Yas. Zayed Al Ameri played the ball to Ali Mabkhout between two defenders and the 30-year-old controlled the ball and dribbled past Bani Yas' defender and blasted it into the back of the net to hand the hosts the lead.
Bani Yas came close to levelling the scoreline on the half-hour mark when Joao Pedro was brought down inside the box. Gastón Suárez stood up to take the penalty from the spot but his rocket hit the woodwork.
Al Jazira were awarded a penalty for a handball three minutes before the break, but it was ruled out after reviewing the VAR, which showed that Khalid Al Hashemi headed the ball to produce a goalline clearance.
Joao Pedro attempted a bicycle kick in the dying minutes of the first half that sailed above the post, allowing the Pride of Abu Dhabi to take a 1-0 lead into the break.
Serbian forward Miloš Kosanović struck a free-kick four minutes after the restart, forcing Bani Yas’ keeper Fahad Al Dhanhani into a brilliant save.
They did double their lead in the 69th minute, when Mabkhout received a defence-splitting pass that left him in a one-on-one sitatuation with Al Dhanhani and he made no mistake slotting the ball in the net.
Less than two minutes later, the Sky Blues reduced the deficit. Khamis Al Hammadi sent an inch-perfect cross inside the box and Joao Pedro headed home to make it 2-1, helping his side find their way back in the game.
However, Imoh Ezekiel sealed the win for Al Jazira with a third goal in the 89th minute. A solo effort from the Nigerian forward saw him dribble past three Bani Yas defenders before firing the ball in the back of the net.
This marked Bani Yas’ first defeat of the season as they dropped to third place on nine points, while Al Jazira jumped to fourth place on eight points.