Caio stars as Al Ain pip Al Dhafra to close in on Pro League crown

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Players of Al Ain and Al Dhafra in action during their Pro League match on Saturday.

Gulf Today, Staff Reporter

A Goal from Caio Canedo was the difference as Al Ain secured an important away win over Al Dhafra at Hamdan Bin Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi on Saturday, growing their lead at the top of the ADNOC Pro League to ten points ahead of second placed Al Wahda.

The visitors started strong, and they successfully managed to open the scoring in the 30th minute when Cristian Guanca floated a cross into the penalty area, and Canedo climbed above Al Dhafra’s defence and fired a powerful header into the back of the net.

Al Dhafra had to finish the game with ten men as defender Khalaf Al Hosani was sent off in the 48th minute after he brought Caio down.

In the 72nd minute, Al Ain could have cemented their lead when Guanca sent in a perfect header but was flagged offside.

The hosts kept searching for the equaliser as Guilherme fired a powerful shot in the dying embers, but it was denied by Al Ain goalkeeper Khaled Issa.

Sergiy Rebrov’s men are now within one win of securing the league title, having extended their lead to ten points with four games to go, while Al Dhafra remained in 12th place with only 18 points.

Al Ain can start the celebrations on Wednesday if they beat Al Jazira at the Hazza Bin Zayed but manager Rebrov has warned his players against complacency.

“It’s true we need one win from the remaining four games but we still need to win that one game,” the Ukrainian said.

In another match, Thomas Olsen grabbed a brace to grant Shabab Al Ahli a 2-1 win over Ittihad Kalba at the Rashid Stadium in Dubai.

The Dubai-based side needed just four minutes to break the deadlock when Ahmad Nourollahi’s cross found the unmarked Thomas Olsen, who found it easy to tap the ball into the back of the net.

The Norwegian striker grabbed his brace and doubled the hosts’ lead in the 22nd minute when he met Yuri Cesar’s through pass with a first time right-footed effort into the left bottom corner of the net.

The visitors reduced the deficit two minutes after the hour-mark when Robert Zulij swung in a brilliant cross from a corner into the penalty area, where Peniel Mlapa turned it into the back of the net with a powerful header.

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