Al Dhafra will hope the rest of an often-trying campaign is this easy.
The Western Knights dominated the battle to reach mid-table safety at Sharjah, a brace from excellent Syria forward Omar Khrbin the least they deserved in a 2-0 win.
Relegation seemed a dismal and distinct possibility at the start of February. The timing from countryman Mohammed Kwid’s side has since been impeccable, a run of four wins from five matches in the Arabian Gulf League meaning it is Friday night’s opponents who are looking over their shoulders once more.
The King failed to live up to their nickname at Sharjah Stadium. Not even the absence of lethal visiting striker Makhete Diop through suspension helped them.
A buffer remains with a quartet of games left. But they stumbled through the “step towards safety” demanded by boss Abdulaziz Al Anbari before the match.
A warning of what was to come came in just the second minute, Khrbin narrowly sidefooting a decent opportunity wide.
This was just a range finder for the winter arrival from Al Wahda SC Damascus. The man with seven goals in the AFC qualifying process for World Cup 2018 lashed superbly into the bottom-right corner from 30 yards, drawing a broad smile from the watching Diop in the deserted stands.
There was no reaction from Sharjah, who were on a four-match undefeated streak in all competitions before the month-long international break.
Dhafra midfielder Adel Hermach and team-mate Khrbin should have scored from headers just before the break. An outstanding sixth goal in eight top-flight games then followed on 55 minutes for the latter, UAE forward Ahmed Ali’s incisive run allowing him to place another low effort past despairing goalkeeper Rashid Ahmed.
Under the watch of astute mid-season re-appointment Kwid, a key match was then closed out. He will demand such assuredness from his troops becomes the norm in the final rounds.
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