The Malaysian Super League title race took another twist as Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT) won big while Pahang dropped two points at home on Wednesday.
Pahang, who were leading the league table on goal difference heading into their match against Felda United, lost ground in the title race as they could only muster a 2-2 draw at the Darul Makmur Stadium.
Dickson Nwakaeme gave the Elephants a lead in the 50th minute after he brilliantly maneuvered past former national captain Shukor Adan and slotted the ball past the Felda goalkeeper.
The Fighters fought back and took the lead with Thiago Augusto Fernandes scoring two headers in 63rd and 70th minute before Damion Stewart drew the game level for Pahang.
The Southern Tigers took full advantage of that result, beating Perak 4-1 at the Larkin Stadium to move two points clear at the top with one match remaining.
JDT started their goal rout after 44 minutes when Perak goalkeeper Zamir Selamat misjudged the flight path of a Safiq Rahim free-kick, allowing Luciano Figueroa to head the ball into the empty net.
Two minutes after the break, they doubled their lead thanks to a long-range strike by Nazrin Nawi.
Perak defender Thiago halved the deficit in the 61st minute, but S. Chanturu and Safiq Rahim found the back of the net in quick succession to help JDT bounce back from last week's 4-1 defeat to Kelantan.
The Red Warriors, on the other hand, could not build on that morale-boosting victory as they lost 3-0 to Selangor.
Ahmad Hazwan Bakri converted a long-range free-kick in 23rd minute, while Brazilian striker Guilherme De Paula continued his recent rich vein of form by grabbing a brace.
The win helped the Red Giants remain in third place in the league standings ahead of Terengganu, who beat PDRM 1-0 with a late strike by Issey Nakajima-Farran.
At the other end of the league table, Sarawak confirmed their stay in the Malaysian Super League after beating the LionsXII 2-1 in Kuching.
Both Patrick Nyema Gerhardt and Billy Mehmet scored for the Crocs from corner-kick situations, while LionsXII striker Khairul Amri netted a consolation from the penalty spot.
Their victory ensured the relegation of ATM, whom Sime Darby beat 1-0 to record their first league win of the season, to the Malaysian Premier League.