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Arabian Gulf League: Round Three Review

Round Three of the Arabian Gulf League was arguably the most entertaining of the season so far, serving up an astonishing 32 goals in 7 games including one hat-trick and three braces. With ten local and fifteen international players getting on the scoresheet during the round, there was plenty of variety in the goals scored, and the race for the 2013/14 Golden Boot has well and truly begun. Al Ain’s Asamoah Gyan, Al Shabab’s Adeilson and Al Wahda’s Sebastian Tagliabue have all netted four times in the first three League games, with Ali Mabkhout of Al Jazira, Carlos Muñoz of Bani Yas and Emmanuel Clottey of Al Dhafra close behind on three goals each.

The round began with six goals at the Maktoum bin Rashid Al Maktoum Stadium on Thursday evening, as Al Shabab’s winning start to the season came to an end with a 4-2 loss at the hands of Al Jazira. Adeilson opened the scoring for Al Shabab with his fourth of the campaign, but Al Jazira fought back with braces from both Abdelaziz Barrada and Ali Mabkhout. The loss of Mabkhout to a straight red card in the 87th minute and the injury time concession of a Hassan Ibrahim goal marred an otherwise impressive and important victory for Luis Milla’s men, putting them 5th in the table with 6 points, and Al Shabab a place below in 6th with the same total.

Thursday night saw Al Ahli march to their third straight victory with a 2-0 away win over Al Nasr at the Al Maktoum Stadium. Luis Jiminez was on target and Ciel also found the net from the penalty spot as Al Ahli racked up nine points from their opening three games, putting them top of the table. Al Nasr, who lost defender Helal Saeed to a second yellow card late on, are 10th with three points. Also on Thursday night, Ajman suffered their third successive defeat as Sharjah recorded a 2-1 away victory at the Rashid bin Saeed Stadium to leave the hosts second from bottom in the standings. Ze Carlos netted a penalty and Ahmed Khamis scored Sharjah’s second, with Yousef Al Sulaiman bagging a consolation for winless Ajman. Sharjah are 7th in the table with 6 points.

On Friday, all four games saw the winning teams score four goals each, and the trend began in Al Awir as Bani Yas beat Dubai 4-1 on the road. Playing with South American swagger, the Chilean Carlos Muñoz, Argentinian Luis Fariña and Brazilian debutant Marcelinho all found the target for Bani Yas, who also benefitted from an own goal by Ali Al Dhaheri. Dubai’s consolation came through substitute Faisal Ali, but the loss leaves them 12th with 3 points. Bani Yas, meanwhile, are one of only two teams in the League to maintain an unbeaten start to the season and sit second in the table with 7 points.

Seven goals were shared between Al Dhafra and Al Ain at the Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan Stadium, with the hosts eventually managing a 4-3 victory over the defending champions. Michel Bastos had given Al Ain the lead but half-time substitute Emmanuel Clottey scored twice and Makhete Diop added a third to give Al Dhafra a stunning 3-1 lead. Asamoah Gyan was then at the double to draw things level at 3-3, but fellow Ghanaian striker Clottey completed his hat-trick to secure the 4-3 win. Al Dhafra now have 4 points in 8th place, whilst Al Ain are 9th with 3.

Al Wahda scored three goals inside the opening 8 minutes to thrash Emirates 4-0 at the Al Nahyan Stadium on Friday night. A double from Sebastian Tagliabue was complemented by goals from Ismaeil Matar and Eisa Ahmed as Karel Jarolim’s side cruised to a comfortable victory, giving them 6 points in 3rd place. Emirates sit 11th with 3 points. The final game of the round saw Al Wasl hit four past Al Shaab at the Khaled bin Mohamed Stadium, running out 4-1 victors to put them 4th in the table with 6 points. Al Shaab remain rooted to the bottom of the League after being downed by goals from Mariano Donda, Fahad Hadeed, Andre Senghor and Maher Jassim, with Mohamed Malalla reducing the deficit slightly for the hosts.