A favourable return to action after the winter break continued on Tuesday for unbeaten Arabian Gulf League leaders Sharjah as they mounted a dramatic late recovery job to defeat Al Dhafra 2-1 thanks to a debutant’s clincher, before champions Al Ain began life minus coach Zoran Mamic with a goalless draw with lowly Emirates Club.
The King came into Tuesday’s action buoyed by second-placed Al Jazira’s harmful 1-0 home loss to Shabab Al Ahli Dubai Club 24 hours prior, upon the top flight’s resumption.
This feel-good factor, however, threatened to dissipate within the first 10 minutes at Khalid bin Mohamed Stadium when Al Wahda loanee Abdallah El Refaey planted a powerful header past goalkeeper Adel Al Hosani.
The hosts quickly laid siege to the Western Knights goal, but could not find a way through until Brazilian playmaker Igor Coronado slotted in a 78th-minute penalty kick for an eighth goal of a productive debut campaign.
This entertaining comeback was then completed in the 89th minute when Moatasem Yassin marked his top-flight bow with a decisive rebound from Brazilian striker Welliton’s shot.
This rousing finale helped secured a five-point overnight lead thanks to the Boss’ surprise misstep.
Less than a week since Mamic’s shock defection to Saudi Professional League heavyweights Al Hilal, caretaker Zeljko Sopic oversaw an agonising 0-0 stalemate with second-bottom Emirates.
A succession of chances went begging, including from new boy Ruben Ribeiro – drafted in as replacement for the sold Hussein El Shahat.
Elsewhere, four first-half goals handed Henk ten Cate a winning start as Al Wahda coach at Ittihad Kalba.
Leonardo (penalty), Sebastian Tagliabue, Sultan Al Ghaferi and Mourad Batna (penalty) all netted in a 4-2 triumph. Myke Ramos got a brace as consolation.
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