Jazira show champion spirit to draw at Al Ain as Berg, Mabkhout star

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Ice cold Berg: Marcus Berg (l) scored twice for Al Ain in the win against Al Jazira (PLC).

Depleted champions Al Jazira battled back to stun Al Ain in a gripping latest instalment of ‘Al Clasico’, highlighted by the shootout between apex predators Ali Mabkhout and Marcus Berg.

The aforementioned summer buy from Panathinaikos moved onto six goals in seven productive Arabian Gulf League-run-outs within 20 minutes. Yet these strikes, at the same time speculation about iconic fellow Swede Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s World Cup 2018-aspirations cranked up a gear thanks to his return for Manchester United after seven months out, could not quell game visitors for whom Mabkhout ruthlessly capitalised on errors just before the whistle in both halves to earn an uplifting share of the spoils.

The broken Boss will point to a loss of control catalysed by injury to rebounding centre midfielder Amer Abdulrahman before the half-hour mark. Yet in the absence of celebrated opposite numbers Mbark Boussoufa of Morocco and Lassana Diarra of France, they should have had enough to gain a first derby win in five top-flight outings.

Berg, himself, was guilty of two later wild misses as the match ball slipped from his grasp.

Jazira’s result brought a shot of confidence three weeks out from the FIFA Club World Cup on home soil. Worries about a 10-point gap to now sole leaders Al Wasl can wait.

In the opposite camp, coach Zoran Mamic must immediately lift deflated troops after slips from Caio and teenager Saeed Juma.

Meanwhile, Shabab Al Ahli Dubai Club finally broke their three-match scoreless streak but could only record a disappointing 1-1 draw with Dibba Al Fujairah.

Senegal hit man Makhete Diop responded from close range early in the second half to Ahmed Ibrahim’s shock opener.

Al Wahda’s attackers all struck as they thrashed Emirates Club 4-1.

Mohammad Malalla’s own goal got things started, with Sebastian Tagliabue, Balazs Dzsudzsak and Mourad Batna forcing the others.

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