(MENAFN- Khaleej Times)
Published: Fri 7 Jan 2022, 10:41 PM
Persistence pays and so it was. Reigning Adnoc Pro League champions Al Jazira clawed back from the depths of despair to clinch their maiden UAE Super Cup in dramatic fashion at a sparkling Hazza bin Zayed Stadium in Al Ain on Friday night.
Known as the 'Pride of Abu Dhabi,' Al Jazira nudged past Dubai rivals and record five-time winners Shabab Al Ahli 6-4 on penalties to add the only piece of silverware missing from their trophy cabinet.
Al Jazira had been behind the eight-ball in regulation time after substitute Mohammad Juma's 65th minute strike being the difference between the two sides. But with two minutes to go for the whistle, Abdalla Ramadan breathed life back into Al Jazira's faltering campaign.
The matter was to be decided by penalties and Abdalla Ali Hassan, who had provided the assist for Juma, fluffed his spot kick. And that proved to be costly as Al Jazira rode to glory on the night.
Joao Victor Santos, Abdoulay Diaby, Ahmed Fawzi, Mohamed Jamal and Abdulla Idrees were on target for Al Jazira, while Ahmad Noorollah, Yousef Jaber and Mohammad Juma scored for Shabab Al Ahli.
Earlier, it was Al Jazira who posed the early question in the opening minutes of the encounter with Bruno De Oliveira making a foray. But the Brazilian striker's attempt was blocked by goalkeeper and skipper Majed Naser in the second minute.
Thereafter, Shabab Al Ahli made twin moves with some neat play. Harib Abdalla made a nice run down the right and tried to play a one–two with Yahya Al Ghassani but the latter, who was marked well, couldn't quite latch onto it and fell in a heap from a challenge, on five minutes.
Two minutes later, Al Ghassani darted down the left and took a crack at the goal but shot stopper and captain Ali Khaseif managed to block it. But the danger was far from over as Harib Abdalla fired on the rebound but the experienced veteran Khaseif was on hand again to make the save.
Both the teams had a corner each after the first 15 minutes.
Al Jazira had an attempt on 22 minutes but Abdoulay Diaby's left-footer went wide of the right post.
Shabab Al Ahli should have broken the deadlock on 25 minutes when Al Ghassani unleashed a dangerous left-footer from close range. But Khaseif was to deny the 23-year-old midfielder.
The Dubai-based club came close again on 32 minutes when Carlos Eduardo came up with a brilliant long ball from the right but Iranian midfielder Mehdi Ghayedi's first-time shot from a tight angle, hit the side netting.
Al Jazira had one attempt before the referee whistled for the break but Moroccan defender Hammed Rabii's powerful long ranger from the right, agonisingly whizzed past the far post, on 36 minutes.
Following the resumption, Al Jazira's had an attempt but Diaby's swerving left-footer was ambitious, if anything, as it sailed way over the crossbar.
Shabab Al Ahli, who looked more enterprising of the two, finally broke the stalemate just past the hour. Abdalla Ali Hassan sent a clever lob and substitute Mohammad Juma Eid, who had come on for Al Ghassani at the restart, played on before lobbing it over Khaseif, on 65 minutes.
And they could have added cushion to the lead and killed it as a contest when Ghayedi conjured a threatening shot from the right on 71 minutes. But Khaseif scrambled to avert the danger.
Shabab Al Ahli looked to be coasting towards a record title but there was to be a twist to the tale. Al Jazira's persistence paid off and they found the equaliser two minutes from time.
Joao Victor Santos did the hard yards down the left and dodged the defenders before squaring it up into open space for Abdalla Ramadan. And the 23-year-old midfielder took aim before crisply firing it past Majed Naser.
Pumped up following that goal, Al Jazira had a last throw of the dice in the final minute of four minutes of stoppage time but Majed Naser charged out to block Diaby's left-footer.
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