Stuttering Arabian Gulf League champions Al Ahli returned to winning ways as defenders Salmeen Khamis and Basheer Saeed helped see off bottom-placed Ittihad Kalba.
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Any other result did not bear thinking about for the holders at Rashid Stadium, coming into the match well off the pace following successive top-flight defeats.
Kalba provided characteristically pliant opposition, though the breakthrough only came at the end of an opening period littered with chances for the Red Knights.
Khamis showed a lethality absent in forwards Grafite and Ahmed Khalil, nodding in Habib Fardan’s free-kick on the stroke of half-time. The second followed straight after the interval, Saeed lashing a sweet volley home from a corner.
Luis Leal struck the crossbar with a tremendous effort in the visitors’ only bright moment, Ismail Al Hammadi and Khalil both having subsequent efforts ruled out for offside as Ahli chased a third.
Leaders Wahda are next in line for Cosmin Olaroiu’s men, the Romanian hoping some momentum has been gained ahead of Monday’s trip to the capital.
Meanwhile, Al Jazira lost valuable ground in the title race as lowly Sharjah inflicted their first home defeat of the campaign during a match in which both sides finished with 10 men.
Jazira were expected to sweep aside Paulo Bonamigo’s men at Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium with relative ease.
Sharjah excelled from the off in Abu Dhabi, deservedly going ahead three minutes before the break when UAE forward Yousef Saeed headed in from substitute Abdulla Darwish’s centre.
Jazira were without star attackers Mirko Vucinic and Manuel Lanzini, their absence providing rare starts for several youngsters.
Forward Ahmed Al Attas equalised on 72 minutes, though this was as good as it got for the hosts as Wanderley produced a fine strike soon after.
Time remained for UAE midfielder Khamis Esmail to be dismissed for two bookings, with Sharjah defender Shahin Abdulrahman also sent off.
Al Nasr claimed their sixth win of a promising season as they easily saw off Emirates Club.
Brett Holman, Ali Al Ameri and Ibrahima Toure struck in the 3-0 triumph.
The Australian curled in the first, defender Al Ameri then rising highest to head in his fourth strike of the campaign.
Toure provided the gloss on 70 minutes, collecting Tariq Ahmed’s chipped ball prior to checking onto his preferred foot and finishing with aplomb.
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