Johor Darul Ta’azim (JDT) squandered a two-goal lead to concede twice in the second half after a 2-2 draw against Kelantan at the Sultan Muhammad IV Stadium in Kota Bharu today.
K. Devan, whose fate at Kelantan was decided during a committee meeting today, was without topscorer Baze Ilijoski in what was a make-or-break match for the former Negeri Sembilan coach. Mario Gomez continued keeping his faith in Juan Martin Lucero, who has been in fine form for The Southern Tigers after scoring four goals in his past three matches.
The seventh Malaysia Super League (MSL) match of the season kicked off with both sides having a go at each other — in terms of harsh fouls. S. Kunanlan was brought down by Kelantan captain Badhri Radzi in the first few minutes of the game, before the former dangerously lunged at two-foot tackle at the latter a couple of minutes later.
The away side had the first chance of the night after Juan Martin Lucero was brought down on the edge of the penalty box on the ninth minute. Team captain Safiq Rahim stepped up to take his trademark free-kick but his attempt was deflected off ex-JDT defender Daudsu Jamaluddin, which prompted a reflex save from Harimau Malaysia goalkeeper Khairul Fahmi.
Mario Gomez’s men opened the scoring after the ten minute mark through Juan Lucero. The Argentinian was quick to pounce on the rebound after Marcos Antonio’s header hit the post. This took his tally to seven goals in the 2016 season (3 MSL, 2 FA cup, 2 AFC Cup). The former Independiente striker could have doubled his side’s lead a minute later but his powerful strike from outside the box was brilliantly saved by the Kelantanese goalkeeper.
Jorge Pereyra Diaz, who is currently the topscorer for the AFC Cup champions, received a smart through ball from his fellow Argentinian before his shot was calmly saved by Khairul Fahmi. However, he was standing in an offside position when he received the ball. On the 23rd minute, he was not offside as his attempt on goal deflected out for corner kick.
The second half kicked off and the visitors immediately picked up where they left off in the first half — in pole position. Juan Martin Lucero doubled his side’s lead after he audaciously chipped the ball over Khairul Fahmi from a through ball by Fazly Mazlan on the 52nd minute. However, a minute later, Indra Putra Mahayuddin popped out of nowhere to score a header past Farizal Marlias. The PQPTRW fans went wild as they were offered a glimmer of hope.
Brazilian centre-back Marcos Antonio was close to extending the lead but his thumping header bounced off the crossbar after the hour mark. A few minutes later, Brendan Gan made the most out of JDT’s inefficiency after he delivered a cross for Wan Zaharulnizam Zakaria, who headed home the equalizer to score the 100th goal of the 2016 MSL season.
The referee blew the final whistle and K. Devan would be extremely proud with his players, whereas Mario Gomez would be disappointed after losing the top spot as FELDA United beat Selangor 3-1 in Jengka.