Bani Yas are still dreaming of hoisting a second President’s Cup aloft after they beat Emirates Club on penalties to reach the semi-finals.
Royston Drenthe, skipper Mohamed Jaber, Mark Milligan and Joaquin Larrivey all netted from 12 yards before the Falcons’ Mohammad Malalla blazed over to send the Sky Blues soaring.
It’s been a miserable season for both teams but the Abu Dhabi outift are at least still in with a chance of salvaging something following Larrivey’s brave early header which was cancelled out in the second half by Rodrigo Pimpao’s fine equaliser as the game went to extra time.
Neither side looked like scoring in the additional 30 minutes so their fate was decided by spot kicks.
Bani Yas stopper Mohsin Mohamed brilliantly beat away the opening penalty from Renan Garcia to set the tone. His team-mates followed suit before Malalla skied high into the sweltering Dubai night.
Bani Yas last lifted the title in 1992 but will face a stern test in the last four against six-time winners and dethroned Arabian Gulf League kings, Al Ain. Al Jazira will face Al Ahli in the other tie.
Bani Yas hero Mohamed was happy to play his part.
“To go to 120 minutes I think maybe we took it by luck,” said the stopper. “My save it was nice and to take the team to the semi-finals, it’s a good thing. If you want to win the cup you have to play the big teams, if you don’t want to play them you can have a rest.”
If Mohamed was the hero, that made Malalla the villain, although he otherwise had a fine game, playing a part in his side’s equaliser.
“We played very well and we tried. It was a matter of luck when it goes to penalties,” he said.
Larrivey gave his side the lead in the 11th minute, nodding in after a brilliant turn and cross from Bandar Al Ahbabi. Emirates threatened after the break with Malalla’s free-kick tipped over by Mohamed, youngster Waleed Ambar flashing a shot across goal while Pimpao whistled another shot just past the post.
The Falcons swooped in the 67th minute, Malalla and Ambar combining well to set up Pimpao whose crisp, precise finish was beyond the dive of Mohamed.
Al Ahbabi’s free-kick was brilliantly tipped round the post by Ali Saqr to keep Emirates alive as the game petered out. For the Sky Blues, a promising season that drifted into mediocrity could yet have a silver lining.