Al Jazira ended a miserable 2015/16 season on a high as they lifted just their third-ever President’s Cup with a dramatic penalty shootout victory against fierce rivals Al Ain.
UAE defender Mohanad Salem crashed the crucial spot-kick against the bar as the Pride of Abu Dhabi restored a modicum of pride following an otherwise woeful season.
The woodwork was a thorn in the side of the Boss all night, Zlatko Dalic’s men connecting with it on no less than three occasions during the 90 minutes.
Even when they did find the target they were thwarted by the brilliant Ali Khaseif who came to his side’s rescue on more than one occasion.
Victory made it three trophies in six seasons for the capital city giants, following back-to- back triumphs in the competition in 2010/11 and 2011/12.
The club has endured a barren spell since though, failing to lift any silverware in the ensuing three seasons. It also earned them a place in next season’s AFC Champions League.
For Al Ain, they equalled an unwanted record. Along with Al Shabab and Al Wasl they have now lost seven President’s Cup finals, more than the six they have won.
Ali Mabkhout sparked the game into life on the stroke of half-time when he converted a penalty generously awarded by referee Mohammed Hassan who felt there was enough contact from Mohammed Fayez.
That made it an incredible 30 goals from 32 games for the UAE international in all competitions this season.
Khaseif offered a brief insight into what was to come when he palmed away a Lee Myugng-joo effort after half an hour.
Four minutes later the post came to his rescue as Boss talisman Omar Abdulrahman rifled a fierce effort off the right upright.
Jazira hit the bar through Manbkhout’s deflected effort before the lethal marksman did find the net, although Abdulrahman again struck the woodwork with a brilliant free-kick on the stroke of half-time to give an indicator of what was to follow.
The majority of the 33,000 fans inside an already raucous Zayed Sports City erupted when Al Ain levelled just past the hour.
Danilo Asprilla’s shot was spilled by Khaseif and deadly Douglas was on hand to net his 18th goal in 22 appearances.
Asprilla was causing all sorts of problems down the right for left-back Sultan Al Suwaidi but despite being put in on goal three times, he was either denied by the UAE stopper or fluffed his lines.
Substitute Ibrahim Diaky thought he had scored the winner with minutes remaining but even though he beat Khaseif, he did not beat the post as the final whistle went soon after to signal penalties.
After Mabkhout saw the first spot kick saved brilliantly by Khalid Essa, Jazira might have feared the worst, but Fares Juma, Khalfan Mubarak, Park Jong-woo, Thiago Neves, Abdullah Mousa and Mohamed Jamal all netted as Jazira held firm.
Khaseif got a strong hand to Asprilla’s penalty to compound the Colombian’s misery, before Salem lost his nerve in sudden death to hand the trophy to Khaseif and Jazira.
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