Al Ain trickster Caio shines to earn our Roger Dubuis Player of the Day

Matt Jones - Editor 00:30 31/03/2019
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Al Ain are holding on for dear life to Sharjah’s coat tails in a desperate bid to maintain a grip on their Arabian Gulf League title – earning a hard-fought 2-1 win at home over promoted Fujairah.

The hosts were in control throughout at the Hazza bin Zayed Stadium but a terrific Ibrahim Khameis effort – his shot arrowing low into Khalid Essa’s bottom right corner – 13 minutes from time made things interesting.

Before that, the Boss opened the scoring 14 minutes in when a half cleared Bandar Al Ahbabi cross fell to Japanese utility man Tsukasa Shiotani and his well-struck volley took a deflection on its way in.

Both sides had chances and the reigning champions seemingly had a second before the break when Jamal Maroof sidefooted home Marcus Berg’s cushioned header, but the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) came into play and the goal was ruled out with the forward deemed offside.

The Garden City side did get a second goal though after the interval when Ruben Ribeiro collected Saeed Mosabah’s centre and calmly dummied a defender before firing in to make it 2-0.

Khameis clawed the Wolves back into it, but Al Ain held on and will feel they should have won by a more handsome scoreline.

We kept a close eye on Boss talisman Caio during the 90 minutes:

Got right – Thorn in the side

Bar Shiotani’s fine – if slightly fortunate opener – Al Ain had struggled to turn their dominance into an advantage. After a quiet first half, Caio exploded into life in the second as the Boss looked to bank the three points.

Fujairah had their moments but always looked susceptible on the counter-attack, particularly when the ball was at Caio’s feet, and he will be disappointed not to leave his mark on the game with a goal or assist.

He was always the first player team-mates looked for in the opposing half as he hugged the touchline or hung on the shoulder of the last defender.

Ultimately he did play an aesthetic role in the crucial second goal, holding up play and impishly flicking a pass into the path of the onrushing Mosabah whose cross found its way to Ribeiro who finished with aplomb.

Got wrong – Killer instinct

As good as Caio was – and he was excellent – you can’t help but feel that a scoreline that ultimately proved a little too close to call for the home side could have been made far more comfortable by a more clinical performance from the Brazilian.

He was always the main outlet for Al Ain – who were forced to soak up periods of pressure from the marauding visitors – as his pace and trickery posed constant problems.

But his brilliant nutmeg in the opening minute of the second half led to a hasty shot that screeched just wide, while as the Wolves employed more reckless tactics late on as they sniffed an equaliser, Caio allowed goalkeeper Abdualla Al Tamim to dispossess him with two team-mates in white screaming for a pass in the centre.

Verdict 8/10

3003 hero of day roger dubuis

Key Moments

46min Nutmegs defender on the touchline before bearing down on goal, rifling a shot into the side-netting

59min Backheel slips in Mosabah and he crosses to Ribeiro for the killer second goal

67min Caio stands over a free-kick, sending it whistling just wide

68min An Al Ain counter finds him in space, he beautifully pirouettes and shows fine footwork to eventually tempt Ahmed Al Hefeiti into a needless foul

71min He’s having fun now, with ball sprayed out wide and a delightful first time flick over Khaled Abdulla is far too quick and the defender hauls him down

90+4min Al Ain counter as Fujairah plead for a penalty, Caio beats the offside trap and zeroes in on goal. He bends a shot goalwards and Al Tamim pushes it away for a corner – it did look to be going wide

90+5min Fujairah are badly exposed at the back as they push for a leveler. Caio really should score or pass with three white shirts swarming in on goal. He does neither

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