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domingo, 16 de outubro de 2016
Khalfan Mubarak plays starring role as Al Jazira cruise past Sharjah
The Pride of Abu Dhabi eased to a comfortable home victory over Sharjah, with magician Khalfan Mubarak playing a starring role in untypical fashion.
When defensive disciplinarian Giorgos Donis drew up Sharjah’s battle plan, it is doubtful the threat of tiny Al Jazira playmaker Khalfan Mubarak from set-pieces would have featured prominently.
Standing little over 5 ft 5 in height, the UAE prospect provides a Lilliputian presence in the Arabian Gulf League. The King coach would have surely focused elsewhere as he attempts to fulfil the ambitions of new employers determined to avoid a third-successive brush with relegation.
Yet the miniscule magician who is more renowned for feats in possession with the ball, twice performed a destructive role with his head to put the Pride of Abu Dhabi on the path to a resounding 3-0 triumph which increased belief in their ability to challenge for the title.
For the visitors, they remain a work in progress. Poland creator Adrian Mierzejewski continued to look an ingenious pick-up, though attackers Gelmin Rivas and Jamal Maroof must start converting the gilt-edged chances he conjures.
The hosts were in complete control throughout.
The deadlock was broken in surprising fashion at Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium. Mubarak caused chaos from a short corner on 18 minutes, grateful centre-back Saif Khalfan sidefooting in the rebound to claim his first top-flight goal at the 22nd time of asking.
The lead was quickly doubled, Mubarak showing surprising spring to nod in Morocco attacking midfielder Mbark Boussoufa’s free-kick via the crossbar.
The President’s Cup winners then stylishly rounded out the scoring just before the hour mark as Peru forward Jefferson Farfan curled home a third goal in five matches from a rapier counter-attack.
Jazira had battered Al Wasl, before rallying to draw the derby at Al Wahda. This was another example of their determination to end champions Al Ahli and Al Ain’s duopoly.