Peniel Mlapa netted a brace as Ittihad Kalba edged Al Jazira 2-1 at Kalba Union Sports and Cultural Club Stadium in the first leg of the playoff round of the Arabian Gulf Cup on Thursday, which was held under the slogan “We commit until we succeed”.
Kalba got off to a good start as they controlled the possession and controlled most of the gameplay in the opening minutes of the match. In the 19th minute, Junior Fernandes sent the ball to Ahmed Jshak, who returned it to the Chilean in a dangerous zone, but his strike was blocked by Al Jazira defense.
The Tigers' efforts finally paid off in the 22nd minute, when Majid Rashid found Peniel Mlapa with a defence-splitting through pass that the striker finished calmly into the back of the net.
Al Jazira pushed forward in an effort to score the leveler. In the 35th minute, Bruno went past Kalba's defender with a brilliant skill and squared the ball towards Faisal Al Matroushi, whose effort was denied by Jamal Abdulla.
Around the one-hour mark, Milos Kosanovic scored the equaliser for the Pride Of Abu Dhabi. The defender's stunning freekick shot nestled into the top corner to make it 1-1.
After conceding, the Tigers tried to regain their lead. Ten minutes ahead of the fulltime whistle, Junior wasted a glorious chance to make it 2-1, as his diving header was saved by Abdulrahman Al Ameri.
In the dying moments of the game, Mlapa completed his brace. The striker got at the end of a long ball and controlled it brilliantly before slotting it into the bottom corner to snatch a crucial victory for his side.
Following the last-gasp defeat, Al Jazira will host Kalba at the Mohammad Bin Zayed Stadium in the second leg on November 12.