Ismail Ahmed rescues point for Al Ain against Dibba

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Late hero: Ismail Ahmed (r).

Al Ain showed the grit expected of Arabian Gulf League champions as towering centre-back Ismail Ahmed struck at the death to see off Dibba Al Fujairah on Friday.

Ahmed, 32, smashed in after he caused chaos from a lofted Fellipe Bastos free-kick in the 90th minute to deny the promoted hosts a famous point. The hard-earned 1-0 triumph ensured Zlatko Dalic’s troops will stay top of the table no matter what second-placed Al Ahli do at Sharjah on Saturday night.

The visitors to Fujairah Stadium began the brighter, with new Brazilian striker Douglas rattling the woodwork on 18 minutes. Eighth-placed Dibba’s excellent top-flight return appeared to be continuing, with the Fishermen defending with real discipline.

But their resistance wasn’t to last, veteran Ahmed repeating his heroics from the trip to Emirates Club on Christmas Day as he made the most of a collision between Mohammad Qassim and Abdulla Naser to volley in from close range.

Meanwhile, striker Makhete Diop popped up with an invaluable late winner for Al Dhafra against relegation rivals Fujairah.

Diop was left unmarked in the 89th minute to head home his eighth goal of the campaign to move the Western Knights to within one point of safety.

The hosts at Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan Stadium had opened the scoring on 34 minutes through Abdulrahman Yousuf’s towering header, before excellent Nigerian striker Patrick Eze’s smart volley had levelled things up just after the interval.

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