DIOP’S HAT-TRICK SECURES WIN FOR AL AHLI

Ras Al Khaimah: Recent signing Makhete Diop scored a hat-trick as Al Ahli beat Emirates 3-0 in a one-sided United Arab Emirates Pro League encounter on Friday.

Diop opened the scoring with a penalty in the 12th minute and added a second 11 minutes later to hand Al Ahli a 2-0 half-time lead.

The reigning UAE champions started the second half just as strongly, with Diop, who joined Al Ahli from Al Dhafra in December, completing his hat-trick four minutes after the restart.

The 2015 AFC Champions League runners-up will feature in the 2017 edition of Asia's premier club competition when they meet the winner of Play-off Stage 3 in Group A in February.

Meanwhile, Brazilian star Leonardo scored and provided an assist on his debut as Al Jazira claimed a 3-2 win over Al Wasl at the Zabeel Stadium.

Forward Ailton Almeida opened the scoring for Al Jazira 13 minutes into the game, but midfielder Ronaldo Mendes equalised for the hosts in the 27th minute.

Leonardo, who joined Hank ten Cate's side from Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors earlier this month, then provided a pinpoint free-kick from which Saif Khalfan headed home on 35 minutes, before opening his Al Jazira account with a fine 54th minute set-piece.

Fabio Lima reduced the deficit with ten minutes to play, but Al Jazira held on to maintain their title challenge.

Al Jazira, who have also qualified for the 2017 AFC Champions League, will meet Qatar's Lekhwiya SC in their opening fixture in Group B.

Photo: Lagardère Sports

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