Bengaluru scores precious away goal to hold JDT 1-1

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Johor Darul Ta'zim (JDT) were held 1-1 in their own backyard by Bengaluru and coach Mario Gomez is at a loss after having three players suspended for the return leg...

Johor Darul Ta'zim (JDT) will have to dig deep in the return leg after being held 1-1 by a determined Bengaluru side in the first leg of the AFC Cup semi-final at Larkin Stadium.

The defending champions must score in the return leg to stand a chance of repeating their 2015 feat, where they became the first Southeast Asian country to even play in the final.

The Southern Tigers, however, will be without the services of Argentine twin threat, Jorge Pereyra Diaz and Juan Martin Lucero, after the duo picked up their second yellow cards of the knock-out stages.

Malaysian skipper Amri Yahyah, who is often used an impact sub, will also miss the return leg on suspension. JDT had started the match with six players a caution away from suspension and another two on the bench.

"At this time, I need to think of a plan. I have Safee Sali and must figure who to play with him. I have 20 days to sort this out," said JDT coach Mario Gomez.

The visitors forced JDT onto the back foot in the opening 20 minutes of the match but the tide then turned as the Malaysian champions pressed higher up and created a host of chances, only to be denied by last-ditch tackles and saves.

JDT's persistence paid off minutes into the second half as Diaz headed a Safiq Rahim corner in in the 52nd minute, sending the stadium into a frenzy.

Their joy, however, was shortlived as Eugeneson Lyngdoh silenced Larkin Stadium with a belter barely five minutes later.

"We played well but we didn't make use of the chances we had, especially in the first half," said Gomez.

"I usually don't complain about the referee but today it was poor. If we were playing in India, I understand ... but don't get me wrong,  I'm not saying we drew because of the referee. That was our doing."

Main Photo: JDT