MSL Wrap – JDT and Felda break away from chasing pack

Defending champions Johor Darul Ta’zim carved open Perak’s defence while Felda United asserted their credentials as title contenders against a strong Terengganu side. 

Terengganu 1 Felda United 4

The Fighters reinforced their title credentials with a convincing win over Terengganu, who fell flat in the second half in an attempt to save the tie after Yong Kuong Yong’s own goal gave Felda the lead.

However, Irfan Bakti Abu Salim’s side will be hoping star midfielder Zah Rahan Krangar will not face a long spell out on the sidelines after limping off the pitch on Monday.

The Turtles took the lead through Joseph Kalang Tie in the 25th minute but Cristie Jayaseelan –  making his first appearance after a month-long absence –  levelled the score just two minutes later.

The teams were evenly matched in the second half but Yong’s own goal forced Mulvey to push his players higher, allowing Felda more space up front.

Krangar danced past three defenders before slotting past Sharbinee Allawee while Francis Forkey Doe put the game beyond doubt in the 78th minute.

Selangor 2 Kedah 2

Zainal Abidin Hassan’s side lost more ground on league leaders Johor Darul Ta'zim (JDT) after being held at the Selayang Stadium.

The Red Giants, who are still unable to use their home ground in Shah Alam due to maintenance work by the city council, are five points off the top and the title race could turn into a two-horse battle if Selangor do not return to their winning ways.

Syazwan Zainon gave the visitors the lead just seven minutes into the match but Selangor reversed the deficit with back-to-back goals from league top scorer Patrick Wleh and in-form winger R. Gopinathan at the half-hour mark.

Kedah refused to sit back and were awarded a penalty, which Sandro Da Silva Mendonca converted, after Raimi Md Nor brought Carlos Kahe down in the box in the 67th minute.

Both teams had a fair amount of chances to seal the win but the score remained the same.

Johor Darul Ta’zim 2 Perak 1

Juan Martin Lucero scored twice as JDT came from behind. Photo: JDT

Before the match, Mario Gomez felt Perak had the ability to defeat the Southern Tigers if they could find the back of the net as the Bos Gaurus’ defense was among the best in the league.

JDT’s starting line-up showed how serious the Argentine took Perak as it was arguably their strongest 11 with Safiq Rahim and Hariss Harun starting in the engine room and Gomez’s compatriots, Jorge Pereyra Diaz and Juan Martin Lucero, leading the attack.

Syamsul Saad’s side went into the match with six clean sheets in eight matches and took a surprise lead in Larkin through Elias Oliveira in the 18th minute. The visitors kept their much-fancied opponents at bay until the break.

Lucero converted from the spot in the 48th minute and scored again five minutes later to keep the back-to-back league champions at the top of the MSL standings. Perak had only conceded two in the league prior to Lucero’s goals

Penang 1 Sarawak 2

The Crocs and K. Rajagobal have finally got the monkey off their back after J. Partiban’s stoppage-time strike gave Sarawak their first win in 2016.

With former national gaffer Rajagobal at the helm in Sarawak, the East Malaysians were expected to rise again but a slow start to the season put the 59-year-old under the microscope despite having the full backing of the fans and management.

Sarawak had to work hard to get their win in Georgetown after Matias Cordoba put the Panthers ahead in the first half.

Brazilian striker Gilmar Jose da Silva Filho revived Sarawak’s hopes in the 59th minute before Partiban’s late winner.

Sarawak moved out of the relegation zone but are only one point above 11th-placed Perak.

T-Team 4 Kelantan 2

The Titans were the other team to record their first win of the season after disposing of K. Devan’s side.

Kelantan matched Rahmad Darmawan’s men in the first half but ran out of steam when it mattered most.

The Red Warriors came from behind twice just before the break but they could not do the same after the restart.

This season’s signing, Dilshod Sharofetdinov of Uzbekistan, scored a brace while Patrick Dos Santos Cruz and former Indonesian Super League star Makan Konate were the other names on the scoresheet.

T-Team’s Kamal Azizi Zabri also found the back of the net but unfortunately it came against his own team.

Kelantan’s Blaze Ilijoski scored his fifth league goal of the season to stay one goal behind Selangor’s Wleh in the goal-scoring chart.

Pahang 0 PDRM 2

Singapore international Safuwan Baharudin scored his first league goal in Malaysia since moving to the Cops this season.

Safuwan was expected to boost PDRM’s midfield but the men in blue have yet to really dominate opponents by winning the midfield battle. Safuwan was even played in a striking role against JDT in the FA Cup but struggled to find his footing.

Ali Ashfaq’s second-half penalty sealed the win and pushed PDRM up to seventh, as the teams above them – sans JDT and Felda – dropped points on Matchday 5.

Pahang’s season seem to be a foregone conclusion and newly-installed coach Razip Ismail is facing a losing battle as the Elephants seem to be by far the weakest squad in the league.

Main Photo: Felda United