JDT come from behind to keep home record intact

The Southern Tigers overturned a one-goal deficit to win the top of the table clash against Felda United at Larkin fortress, Vijhay Vick writes from Johor...

Malaysia Super League (MSL) defending champions Johor Darul Ta'zim (JDT) showed Felda United why they were a cut above the rest following a 2-1 win at the Larkin Stadium.

The result meant JDT kept their unbeaten record at home, which now stretches to 42 matches dating back to the 1-0 defeat to LionsXII in April 2012. Just last November, Felda had ended JDT's 41-match unbeaten home run in all competitions with a 2-1 win in the Malaysia Cup quarter-final.

JDT remain second on the standings after Selangor's 4-2 win over Sarawak put them on top.

JDT and Selangor are tied on 10 points with the same goal difference but the latter have scored more goals. Felda are one point adrift in third.

It was a tale of two halves as Felda looked like they were going to be JDT's bogey team once again after taking the lead in the first half, but Mario Gomez's side showed character to improve considerably in the following half.

Gomez's decision to field Jorge Pereyra Diaz on the left flank with a three-man midfield comprising skipper Safiq Rahim, Hariss Harun and Gary Steven Robbat did not pay dividends as Felda took the lead through Uzbek Lutfulla Turaev in the 29th minute.

S.Chanturu making a run for the winning goal. (Photo by Asian.my)

JDT brought on left winger Nazrin Nawi for Robbat almost immediately but the reorganisation, which saw Diaz move up to partner Juan Martin Lucero, only bore fruits in the second half.

"We need to try different tactics and we can only do that during games because of the scheduling. I used this formation in the final 20 minutes against some other teams and we did well ... maybe it's not suited from the start," said Gomez.

"But it's okay. Most importantly is the three points (we won). We didn't play well in the first half but it was also because Felda played well.

"We did much better in the second half and them going down to 10 men was too much to take. Even then, Felda did well to only concede once after that.

"We had to be more direct in the second half because Felda had numbers behind the ball everytime we played five-six passes before attacking in the first half. In the second half, I told my player to move the ball faster."

A rejuvenated JDT equalised through Diaz in the 50th minute before Felda left-back Adib Aizudin Abdul Latif was sent off in the 62nd minute after picking up two yellow cards in the space of three minutes for silly challenges on Diaz and S. Kunanlan.

Half-time substitute S. Chanturu netted the winner after Felda's defence failed to deal with Diaz, allowing the Argentine to play the right-winger through on goal in the 83rd minute.

"The sending off was not the cause of the defeat but it was uncalled for. We were keeping them out and Adib should have been more composed instead," said Felda coach Irfan Bakti Abu Salim.

"Overall, I am satisfied with what I saw from my players. It's still very early in the season .... 18 games to go so there is no point in dwelling on this too much."

Photo by: Asiana.my