Cosmin Olaroiu's charges broke the deadlock eight minutes before the break in Thursday's fixture, with Grafite notching his 12th league goal of the campaign.
Ismail Al Hammadi extended the visitors' advantage shortly after the hour mark, but then Chilean Luis Jimenez was sent off for a second bookable offence, ensuring a nervy ending.
Emirates' attempts to take advantage of the numerical advantage appeared fruitless, until German Gustavo Herrera notched from the penalty spot in the 90th minute.
It was a case of too little too late for the hosts, however, as Al Ahli extended their unbeaten league run to five matches.
Al Jazira's title suffered another blow as they let a two-goal lead slip in a 2-2 draw with Al Dhafra.
It looked as though last week's 1-0 loss at Ajman would be quickly forgotten, as Abdullah Mousa and Abdelaziz Barrada scored or the hosts inside the opening 18 minutes.
But Makhete Diop quickly halved the deficit from the penalty spot, and the visitors had their tails up when Barrada was shown a second yellow card in the 53rd minute.
It took just three minutes for Al Dhafra to capitalise as Rogerio levelled proceedings.
Also on Thursday, Sebastian Tagliabue scored the only goal of the game as Al Wahda won 1-0 at Al Ain.
Al Shabab remain six points adrift of Al Ahli in second place, as Edgar Silva's strike in the 68th minute settled their encounter with Al Shaab on Friday.
Al Shaab have now won just once in their last seven matches, and remain mired in relegation trouble.
Dubai are still rooted to the bottom of the league following a 3-0 loss at Al Sharjah.
All three goals came in the last 20 minutes, as Yousif Saeed Juma and Ahmed Khamis strikes sandwiched Salem Khamis' penalty.
There was better news for fellow strugglers Ajman, who secured back-to-back wins, as Mansour Mohamed Abbas' first-half strike ensured a 1-0 triumph at Al Wasl.
The win moves Ajman five points clear of the relegation zone.
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